by Mary Beth Daley, Staff Accountant
Wikipedia tell us, “Mental Health Awareness Month (also referred to as ‘Mental Health Month’) has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United State through the media, local events, and screenings.”
Since its origin, in 1949, by the Mental Health America organization (known at that time as the National Association of Mental Health) each year, in mid-march, MHA will select a theme or focus for the current year and release a toolkit of materials. The purpose of the theme and toolkit is to help other organizations, interested in mental health, plan and hold a number of activities during the month of May.
Some of the themes for recent years have been:
- 2014: Mind Your Health – focused on the connection between mind and body, encouraging people to “take positive actions and protective measures for one’s own mental health, and whole-body health.”
- 2015: B4Stage4 – focused on addressing mental health symptoms early.
- 2016: Mental Illness Feels Like – asked individuals to share what living with a mental illness feels like for them. A hashtag of #mentalillnessfeelslike was created and individuals were asked to tag their social media posts when submitting their experience, of living with a mental illness, in words, pictures and video.
The theme for 2017 is “Risky Business” and focuses on multiple “habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves. These include risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns.”
A toolkit is available and includes media materials, social media and web components, as well as fact sheets and handouts that may be downloaded/shared. You don’t have to be an organization to be effective in promoting mental health awareness. Each and every one of us has been touched by mental health illness, either personally or by someone close to use. Take time this month to post something, either at your workplace or on your Facebook or Twitter feed, to promote this year’s theme of Risky Business.