5 Ways to Make the Most of Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you ask me, though, every month should be Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences mental health issues in a given year. In case you’re wondering, that equals about 46.6 million people. Although mental health problems are extremely common in today’s society, there is still a certain stigma that accompanies mental illness. Those who suffer are often mislabeled as crazy, over-dramatic or even insane. Often times, depression and anxiety are seen as temporary mood swings that can be conquered by merely “thinking positive” or “not worrying so much.” Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s much more than that, and there are ways that everyone can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, here are five ways that you can help raise awareness for and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

  1. 1. Talk about it

    The first and most important step to breaking down the mental illness stigma is talking about it. If you know someone who deals with mental illness, don’t be afraid to talk about it with them or simply ask them how they’re doing. Talking about mental illness and recognizing it as a common yet detrimental issue goes a long way in reducing stigma.

  2. 2. Educate yourself

    Becoming more knowledgeable about mental illness is vital in a world where it is so prevalent. If you’re close with someone who deals with mental illness, educating yourself lets them know that you care and that they are not alone in their fight. If you want to learn more about mental illness, there are so many available resources out there, such as NAMI and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

  3. 3. Avoid using terms like “crazy”

    For too long, people struggling with mental health issues have been labeled as “crazy” or “insane.” The derogatory language used when referring to mental illness plays a huge role in perpetuating its stigma. There are so many non-judgmental ways to talk about mental health without misidentifying those who struggle with it as “crazy people.”

  4. 4. Listen

    If you don’t know what it’s like to deal with mental illness, it can be hard to understand what someone else is going through, but that’s okay. Speaking from personal experience, just having someone who cares enough to listen to what I’m dealing with goes a long way in helping me through a tough time. You don’t have to be an expert on mental illness to help someone who is struggling. Instead, just try listening and being supportive. Trust me, it helps!

  5. 5. Share your story

    As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, it can be extremely intimidating to share my story. However, seeing others share their stories about dealing with mental illness has given me the courage to speak out about it. Sharing your story can be a healthy step for you, and you never know who you might help by speaking out.