Many of us find ourselves in a slump this time of year. Though we began 2019 with good intentions, the task of maintaining healthy habits each day can start to feel more challenging than empowering. Now that May is officially here, however, it’s time to give our self-care and mental wellness a good spring cleaning.
Throughout the month of May, we encourage you to join the movement to help reevaluate your mental health care and wellness by finding support for yourself—and offering it to those around you, as well.
A History of Mental Health Awareness
Believe it or not, Mental Health Awareness Month dates back to 1949. And since then, more and more organizations continue to work together to celebrate this annual tradition and help reduce the social stigmas surrounding mental illnesses.
Mental Health Awareness Month was established to “fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families,” (NAMI). It’s true that many of us struggle with depression, grief, body image, or other conditions. In fact, “1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime.” But by participating in local community activities, special events, and programs that help reduce social stigmas through education, you, your friends, coworkers, and neighbors will feel encouraged to make self-care a top priority and to become more mindful of the needs of others.
Mental Health Awareness Activity Ideas
Every year, Mental Health Awareness Month has a creative theme. This year’s theme centers around the connection between our minds and bodies. And so, people are encouraged to start tagging #4Mind4Body on their social channels to help raise awareness.
There are several events, activities, and challenges available to individuals of all ages that may help you refocus your intentions and prioritize mental health in your life. Whether you’re living with a mental illness or not, participating in the below activities will help foster a more tolerant, supportive, and understanding perception that inspires you and your loved ones to pursue better, fuller lives—together!
Ideas for Employers
Mental health awareness activities for work are easy to implement and can boost team morale, production, and employee wellbeing. Here are several ways to raise awareness at the office:
- Establish paid-time-off (PTO) programs that benefit your employees and encourage mental wellness breaks throughout the year. An example could be offering employees a birthday vacation day (tip from Austin Benefits Group).
- Share news, quizzes, and other fun resources that help educate others about mental health. (For ideas on positive conversation topics, visit time-to-change.org.uk).
- Host fun work events, volunteer days, or mid-week breaks—such as bring-your-pet-to-work day or afternoon tea-time breaks (tips from Austin Benefits Group).
Ideas for Adults
Adults also have several opportunities to incorporate activities into their daily routines:
- Learn more about mental health and stigmas by updating your reading list. You may decide to include N. Bly’s Ten Days in a Mad-House, J. Bruce’s Stigma: The Many Faces of Mental Illness, or other titles (see full reading list at PositivePsychologyProgram.com).
- Take a break from work, whether it’s a staycation or vacation, and allow yourself to rest, recharge, and come back to the office feeling reinvigorated.
- Reap the benefits of animal companionship with pets and service animals (tip from Mental Health America).
- Utilize mental health mindfulness exercises and tools like mood trackers and self-reports, (tip from PositivePsychologyProgram.com).
- Add more laughter and humor into your life (For more information on ways to add more humor in your life, visit MentalHealthAmerica.com).
Ideas for Children & Teens
There are many different mental health awareness activities for students in both primary and high school settings that can be completed at home or incorporated into school curricula, such as
- Incorporate mindfulness exercises and worksheets into classroom activities (tip from PositivePsychologyProgram.com)
- Invite an expert guest speaker to an upcoming assembly to discuss the importance of mental health and answer questions.
- Provide children with reading materials that focus on mental health and are relatable to their age groups, such as E.N. Flinn’s Dear Allison: Explaining Mental Illness to Young Readers or T. Rath and M. Reckmeyer’s How Full is Your Bucket? (tips from PositivePsychologyProgram.com).
For more creative ideas for children and teens, visit the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
We hope you feel inspired and get into the spirit of raising mental health awareness this month. If you’d like to talk to one of our experienced therapists, visit our website to learn more about the services and programs we offer to individuals and families.