Observed every May since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to the education and promotion of healthy mental health practices around the world.
Because nearly every person knows someone with a mental illness or has a mental illness themselves, Mental Health Awareness Month aims to destigmatize mental illness and provide people with the knowledge and resources needed to make a difference in their personal lives as well as in their community.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month’s 70-year anniversary this year, here are a few ways you can participate (and celebrate!).
Be an advocate
Being a mental health advocate first starts with education and awareness. Knowing where mental health services in your community and/or country are unavailable or need improvement will give you a good idea of where you can focus your efforts and make a difference in the world. Volunteering your time, voting for mental health reform, or even positively influencing a conversation about mental health can make a significant impact.
Empathize with others
No one chooses to battle with mental illness. Empathizing with people who struggle with mental illness can show them a level of support and connection they don’t always receive. Because most mental illnesses are often stigmatized and misunderstood, even spending a few hours with people, hearing their stories, and learning how you can help them can go a long way.
Mindfulness is a reminder that keeping an open mind and staying grounded in the present is an essential component of leading a happy and fulfilling life. Making a regular habit of meditating or reflecting on your day (every day) will highlight the sources of positivity that already exist in your life as well as provide you with the strength and wisdom to overcome hardships in the future.
Especially in today's fast-paced, technology-driven world, stress finds us everywhere. Whether it's difficulties with your personal relationships, difficulties at work or school, difficulties stemming from mental illness, or all of the above, taking a break and focusing on you and your needs can have a massive impact on your mental health. Simply put: take the time to put stress aside and prioritize your happiness and safety.
Equally important to treating yourself is the practicing of challenging yourself when you can. The best way to face an obstacle is to acknowledge it and overcome it, not avoid it. As humans, failure and hardship are often the best teaching moments in life.
With that said, the next time you experience a challenge in your life, try to see the obstacle as an opportunity to learn something and to grow from rather than something to be afraid of. If you can, try to tackle that obstacle head-on and evaluate the outcome and how you feel about it afterward. You might be surprised to learn that you're stronger and more capable than you think.
Based in Scottsdale, AZ, Pathways Counseling Services is a counseling practice dedicated to the promotion and practice of mental health awareness. For more information on how you can get involved in your community, or if you or a loved one are looking for mental health treatment, give us a call at (480) 235-1682 or schedule an appointment here to get in touch