Each year, May is a time when there is a special focus on mental health and mental illness. The entire month is recognized as Mental Health Month, an observance created in 1949 by an organization originally called the National Association for Mental Health and now known as Mental Health America. Its purpose is to draw attention to mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, among others.
Additionally, May 3-9 is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Headed by the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, it shines a spotlight on children’s mental health issues.
Say It Out Loud: There Is No Shame in Mental Illness
One of the leading voices in this area is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It promotes a program called Say It Out Loud: Speaking with Teens about Mental Health. According to NAMI, one in five teens has a mental health condition but less than half of them are not getting the help they need.
Although more people than ever are aware that mental illness is a treatable disease faced by millions around the world, there is still a stigma associated with it. This is especially true among teens, given all the pressure they feel to “fit in” and be “normal.” To reduce, or ideally eliminate, that stigma, people need to continue to share accurate information about mental illness and engage others in meaningful conversations.
The Say it Out Loud program includes an online toolkit that adults can use to open conversations about mental health and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression that affect so many young people. The kit includes:
- A short film featuring three teen's experiences
- A discussion guide
- A narrated presentation for the facilitator
- Fact sheets and information about connecting with your local NAMI affiliate
NAMI encourages you to make as many copies of the toolkit as you need and distribute them throughout your community.
Gain Proactive Awareness through CRC
Community Reach Center offers Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses. The health literacy courses are much like a traditional Red Cross First Aid course and have been gaining momentum over the past decade. The idea is to teach individuals how to take a proactive approach by looking for early signs that may indicate mental health problems and also how to successfully intervene with someone in crisis.
Other Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness
There are so many ways you can contribute to the efforts to raise awareness about the mental health issues faced by young people — during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Health Month and year ‘round! In addition to using and sharing the Say it Out Loud toolkit, you can:
- Encourage your mayor, governor or other officials to make a proclamation recognizing one of the many mental health awareness events throughout the year
- Hand out green mental health awareness ribbons
- Host an event to provide information and resources at a local venue
- Volunteer for your local mental health center or an NAMI affiliate
Spread the Word: There is Hope for People Striving for Better Mental Health!
We’re here for you if you have questions about Mental Health Month or Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, or if you need help with anxiety, depression, or any mental or emotional issues you are facing. Contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northern Denver metro area, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.