Mental Health Awareness Beyond the Month of May
By Amy Weiner
Mental Health Awareness Month has brought many of us to commit to learn and participate in conversations to break the stigma, and part of this pledge is that we don’t stop with the calendar. Just because May is over and the upcoming months aren’t dubbed with the title of MHA, the purpose of the movement is not to only promote mental health awareness during the month, but rather to be equipped with an understanding of how to do so going forward.
Social media will begin to seem less populated with informational graphics about mental health, and resources or discussion threads may no longer be categorized on your feed as “Trending”. Recognizing that mental health awareness is not trendy is the first step in upholding this shifted mindset throughout the year. Mental health awareness addresses pressing, serious issues whose significance neither starts nor ends with an Instagram post. Social media can be accredited with sparking difficult conversations, connecting people to useful resources, and providing information to millions of users. However, it is just one of the many avenues that can be used to advance conversation and understanding, and the continuation of mental health awareness shouldn’t be dependent on it.
This naturally lends itself to the question of how, then, do we successfully progress the movement beyond the month of May? There is no definitive answer to this question, as it can take plenty of forms that can be easily woven into a new normal for society. As we continue to initiate open discussions about mental health, and introduce it to those who are uneducated on the topic, we work to break the stigma. The same can be said for publicizing resources for those struggling with mental health, as well as taking a personal initiative to fill in knowledge gaps, seeking information when it’s less trendy on social media. No action item is too small, and starting with educating yourself is an impactful step.
By integrating the focus of MHA month into our lives as we operate in society, we push mental health awareness beyond the month of May. With the idea in mind that mental health awareness is meant to extend beyond 31 days, we are ready to depart from May and commit to making mental health awareness an unwavering priority in society, starting with ourselves.