By Naomi Carr

Updated: 03 May 2024 & medically reviewed by Morgan Blair

Mental Health Awareness Month was created in 1949 to help increase understanding and support of people with mental health issues. Since then, many organizations and communities have demonstrated their support for this cause with events, activities, and educational resources to increase public awareness.[1] 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Since the creation of Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, various organizations have promoted mental health awareness throughout the month, including sharing information about various conditions, symptoms, treatments, and coping strategies. During May, communities can get involved in raising awareness, spreading information, and highlighting how mental health affects us all and how we can support one another. 

Mental Health Awareness Month is important as it can help reduce the stigma that continues to surround mental health issues and increase understanding of symptoms and conditions that affect so many people. Unfortunately, numerous people feel unable or unwilling to seek support for their mental health, often due to a fear of judgment. [2][3]

Reports show that one in five people experiences mental health issues and only around half of these people get the help they need. [4]

Mental Health Awareness Month can help people feel more equipped to seek professional help and to talk to their loved ones about their experiences.

How to spread mental health awareness

During Mental Health Awareness Month (and at any other time of the year), you can get involved in raising awareness and spreading information about mental health. 

Social Media

Sharing on social media is a great way to spread awareness to people of all ages, backgrounds, and locations. The types of messages you can share on social media to increase awareness could include: 

  • Sharing facts and figures about mental health, such as statistics about how many people experience specific disorders, the ages at which certain conditions often emerge, and any risk factors or protective factors influencing mental health.

  • Sharing information about organizations that support people with mental health conditions, including suicide and crisis phone lines, educational resources, and supportive services.

  • Sharing links to websites relating to mental health information.

  • Sharing supportive messages about mental health.

  • Sharing ideas for coping strategies that people could use when in distress.

Events

Many organizations and communities host events during Mental Health Awareness Month to spread information, provide support, and raise funds. You could look for events happening in your area and attend or volunteer your time to help support these causes.

You could also:

  • Host an event, encouraging people in your local community to get involved.

  • Use posters and leaflets to spread awareness about mental health symptoms, conditions, and treatments.

  • Organize a run or walk within your community, encouraging people to talk to one another while engaging in exercise.

  • Raise money for mental health charities.

  • Organize a screening for people in your community to be assessed by a mental health professional.

  • Arrange for a professional or someone with experience of mental health conditions to speak at an event and share their knowledge.

Talking

Talking to others can have a significant impact on mental health symptoms, reducing feelings of stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety. Being open with others can not only be beneficial to you but can also show others that there should be no stigma or judgment when talking about mental health. [5]

Talk to your family and friends about your own mental health and ask for help when you need it. Ask others how they are feeling and let them talk openly to you about their experiences. 

Sharing experiences can help people see that they are not alone, reduce the stigma associated with mental health, and be an opportunity to share positive coping strategies and self-care techniques.

Contacting officials

You may wish to contact your local officials, such as governmental officials, mayors, or organizations that impact the community. Tell them about Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance of promoting and celebrating this occasion. Ask them to arrange awareness events in the area and spread information to the local community.

Involving employers or teachers

You could also ask your school teachers or employers to get involved in Mental Health Awareness Month by organizing events and activities such as fundraisers, external speakers, group discussions, and educational activities. You could encourage your colleagues or classmates to speak openly about their emotions and promote healthy attitudes around mental health.

Helping those affected by poor mental health

Many people are affected by mental health symptoms, whether that is their own experiences or that of their family and loved ones. There are many ways to provide help to people, although it is important to respect people’s boundaries and privacy while doing so. 

Ways to help others can include: [5][6]

  • Offering your time: Someone who is experiencing mental health issues may want to talk about their symptoms and experiences or they may want some company so that they feel less alone.

  • Asking how you can help: Different people may need or want different things, so asking how you can help gives them a chance to be clear about their needs. They may need help with practical things like cooking a meal or getting groceries, or they may want someone to attend an appointment with them.

  • Spreading awareness: Helping to improve the understanding of mental health can reduce stigma and increase public awareness, making it easier for people to seek help.

  • Checking in: If a friend or loved one is experiencing mental health symptoms, they may retreat from others and isolate themselves. Checking in and asking how they are or offering to spend time together can show them that they are not alone and allow them to reach out if and when they feel able to.

  • Giving them resources: People who are struggling might find it easier to talk to people they don’t know rather than their loved ones. Providing links to websites or phone lines might be helpful for them.

Mental health awareness resources and toolkits

Several organizations provide resources and toolkits to help spread awareness and information about mental health conditions, symptoms, and treatments. This includes: