Mental Health Awareness Month provides education about the reality of living with a mental health condition—while it can make life more difficult, it doesn't have to stop someone from having a fulfilling life. 

When is Mental Health Awareness Month?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While it was first recognized in 1949, it has never been more important than now to recognize the role mental health plays in our overall well-being and the value in raising awareness and helping those in need receive treatment.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month was originally established by the Mental Health America organization and is recognized during the month of May. It was created as a way to educate the public about mental illness, raise awareness surrounding research and treatments, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and celebrate recovery from mental illness. Because of misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health issues, people often suffer in silence and don’t seek treatment for their conditions. Mental health awareness is an important initiative to improve understanding of mental health conditions and increase access to healthcare for those who need it.

What is the importance of Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month helps people recognize the ways mental illness impacts their lives, educates people about available services, and highlights ways to advocate—even if they don't have a mental illness. 

Recognition and education are important ways to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. Mental Health Awareness Month creates a time and space to start a conversation. Talking openly about mental health can reduce the misconceptions and stigma, and can encourage those who are suffering to seek help and find a support network.

It's important for caregivers, friends, and loved ones to understand the impact that mental health has on daily life. When people are better educated on these conditions, they can better support and help someone dealing with a mental health issue.

Mental Health Awareness Month also provides an opportunity for fundraising, outreach, and awareness events. This, in turn, can help support research, fund treatment options, and connect advocates to create a brighter, more promising future of mental health care.

Who can benefit from Mental Health Awareness Month?

Everyone! Nearly one in five adults in the US has a mental health condition. But that one person has family, friends, and others whose lives are touched by their condition, even if they don't themselves suffer from one. You might be surprised by the prevalence of mental health conditions in adults in the US:

  • 48 million have an anxiety disorder
  • 21 million have major depression
  • 9 million have post-traumatic stress disorder
  • 7 million have bipolar disorder
  • 3.5 million have borderline personality disorder
  • 3 million have obsessive compulsive disorder
  • 1.5 million have schizophrenia

Mental Health Awareness Month helps those with a condition overcome the stigma and get access to treatment. It helps their friends, family, and loved ones better understand their condition and connect with support networks. It helps the providers who treat those with a condition receive funding for their research and treatment so they can better care for all our mental health. In short, we can all benefit from Mental Health Awareness Month.

What can you do to raise awareness for mental health?

There are many opportunities for fundraising, community outreach, and awareness events during Mental Health Awareness Month. Many national organizations like Mental Health America (MHA), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and the National Institute of Mental Health hold events and fundraisers. NAMIWalks is a national event where people come together to walk, promote awareness and raise funds. MHA provides a campaign called Tools 2 Thrive, which provides education on mental health conditions and tools and tips for people to improve their mental health. Contact your local mental health organization to see how you can get involved or volunteer. They may have their own awareness event or fundraisers as well.

If there is someone in your life struggling with their mental health, the best thing you can do is reach out and start a conversation. Educate yourself on the realities of living with mental health issues and confront any feeling of stigma or judgment you may have. Just supporting those in your life can spread the message of awareness and acceptance.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing a mental health crisis, text or call 988 for the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline, or call the Lifespan Outpatient Psychiatry crisis lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 401-723-1915 or 401-553-1031. We also offer a range of services for non-crisis mental health management—learn more on our website.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.