Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month
By: Rebecca Stradling, LMHC
Mental Health Awareness month has been observed in May since 1949. Each year the founding organization Mental Health America (MHA)partners with organizations around the country to promote awareness, action, and change around issues related to mental wellbeing.
Just like physical health, we all have mental health. Thankfully, the stigma associated with mental health is increasingly being challenged in media, pop culture, families, and within us. The COVID-19 pandemic was an extreme stressor experienced around the world. To fully maximize our collective resilience after what we have gone through, mental well-being must remain prominent in our conversations about recovery.
This year’s theme, “Look Around, Look Within” brings focus onto the connection between our emotional health and our surroundings. The environments where we spend our time connect to important aspects of our lives. Four examples in included in this year’s theme are: Safe Stable Housing, Home Environment, Community, and Nature. But what does this mean?
Safe Stable Housing
Safe and stable housing is recognized as a basic need and any risk to, or absence of adequate housing is a powerful threat to mental health. There is also focus on feeling psychologically safe at home and having a home free of environmental hazards.
Home environment is about optimizing your space with tidiness and creating a bedroom that is “sleep friendly.” There is emphasis around creating more comfort in your home, improving air quality, and setting yourself up for success with healthy habits and routines.
Community pays attention to how our neighborhoods effect our mental health through access to resources, the establishment of social connections, sense of safety and the dynamics of gentrification, and poverty.
Nature is seen as an important way to support mental health, therefore efforts to spend time in green spaces and natural light are advantageous.
Mental Health America tasks each of us with getting out the message about the importance of caring for our mental health. Check out this toolkit and share the information with people in your own environments, so that together we can continue to break down stigma and empower problem-solving discussions on mental health needs and care.