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How to “Spread the Health” in May for Mental Health Awareness Month
For many of us, mental health often takes a backseat in our pursuit of holistic health. Yet, we must remember the term holistic health refers to caring for the whole person: body + mind + spirit. We cannot forget the “mind and spirit” elements of this wellness triad.
That’s why I’m excited that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To help spread the health, I put together some useful information about this observance and simple ways you can educate others about mental health awareness.
Mental Health Awareness Month: A Brief Overview
The first Mental Health Awareness Month started in America in 1949. It now reaches millions of people in the U.S. through screenings, local events, and media. Around mid-March, Mental Health America provides toolkits featuring materials that help prepare for outreach activities. During May, Mental Health America works in conjunction with other organizations to offer numerous activities based on various themes.
In previous years, themes have included:
- Mental Illness Feels Like
- Mind Your Health
- Pathways to Wellness
- Live Your Life Well
- Healing Trauma's Invisible Wounds
The purpose of these theme-based programs is to increase consciousness regarding mental illnesses.
Some of them include:
- Bipolar Disorder
The programs discuss some of the realities that materialize when individuals struggle with these conditions. These programs also provide people with strategies to maintain and support mental wellness. Also, Mental Health Awareness Month is aimed at reducing the stigma that often surrounds those suffering from mental illness.
Other Organizations That Support Mental Health Awareness Month
While Mental Health America plays an integral role in supporting Mental Health Awareness Month, it's important to note that there are other organizations involved with this process. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has partnered with other advocacy organizations to put on National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day.
This Year's Theme for Mental Health Awareness Month
The 2018 Annual Conference Mental Health Month theme will be Fit For The Future. During this conference, the public will be educated on key topics such as how we can be fit for the future for mental health. Emphasis will also be placed on:
- Cutting-edge technology, treatments, and research
- How to enact 21st century policy solutions
- Designing and implementing effective prevention
- Early intervention
- Recovery oriented policies
By providing the public with information on these topics, the conference facilitators will raise awareness regarding how to detect warning signs and provide resources for early intervention and prevention.
Making Mental Health Awareness A Year-Round Project
While many people may grow increasingly conscious of the need for cognitive well-being during Mental Health Awareness Month, it's important to note that there are various events and celebrations designed to raise awareness about the issue year-round. There are also several months and weeks designed to draw attention to the unique challenges that individuals from distinct demographic groups may face.
Some of them include:
- National Depression Screening Day
- Mental Illness Awareness Week
- Minority Mental Health Month
A Holistic Approach to Supporting Mental Health
While the reality of poor mental health care can seem overwhelming and depressing, it's important to know that creating awareness around the issue can help others cultivate a lifestyle that is supportive to mental wellness. Luckily, there is a wide range of holistic health approaches to promoting mental wellness.
Holistic Protocols for Mental Wellbeing
Ongoing anxiety and chronic stress can lead to a number of serious physical and mental health issues. Reducing stress is key in maintaining mental wellbeing. Because massage decreases stress levels while offering a wide range of other health benefits that facilitate wellness, regular massage is an excellent protocol for those experiencing chronic stress and anxiety.
As many allopathic and holistic health experts know, exercise plays a key role in optimizing mental health. This is the case for many reasons including the fact that ongoing physical activity promotes the release of serotonin in the body. The release of this "happy hormone" promotes feelings of peace and happiness within, thereby counteracting stress and anxiety with a sense of deep calm.
But maybe you’re someone who hates going to the gym? No problem! Nature is your best friend and has significant benefits to your mental and physical health. Try scheduling a one-hour hike once a week, practicing yoga outside for 30 minutes, or taking a one-hour bike ride around your favorite city park.
If you're serious about optimizing your mental health, it’s time to seriously consider meditation. This mental practice is incredibly empowering because it alleviates stress while also promoting an enhanced memory and clearer thinking. For years, Westerners pooh-poohed the idea of meditation. Now that science has caught up to what meditation practitioners have always known—meditation reduces stress, enhances focus, and supports overall happiness,—we’re seeing this wellness protocol skyrocket in the U.S.
If you've never engaged in a meditation practice, don't worry.
There is a wide range of distinct styles you can practice, and there are various formats that beginners can easily master. An example would be the mantra-based form of meditation. This modality will involve calmly repeating a word or phrase of affirmation. Examples would include “I am enough,” “I allow and I trust,” and "Peace, love, and joy." Here's a great blog post to get your started on your meditation practice.
What can you do to promote mental health awareness?
Now that Mental Health Awareness Month is here, the best place to start is to optimize your own mental wellbeing. Then, see where you can get involved that leaves a positive impact on the people around you. The organizations listed above are great resources.
If we truly value a holistic approach to our health, we cannot forget that mental health is a crucial piece to the wellness puzzle.
Want to learn more about how holistic health and wellness can impact mental health? Check out ACHS’s online class, HED 303 Stress Management and Emotional Health Online, which is also featured in the Associate of Applied Science in Health and Wellness program.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a guest blogger for American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
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