May is Mental Health Awareness Month

While attitudes towards mental illness are slowly changing,  people experiencing mental health problems still face enormous stigma that can delay their recovery and prevent them from becoming reintegrated into their community.    To help improve the quality of life for the estimated one in four people living with mental illness, the month of May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States.    First launched as Mental Health Awareness Week during the 1940s, it was later expanded to a full month during the 1960s.

The 2013 theme for Mental Health Month is Pathways to Wellness.  Among the key messages by Mental Health America as part of this broader theme are:

  • Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life.  It's about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
  • Wellness involves a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. Wellness is more than just the absence of disease.
  • Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.
  • Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings-at home, at work and in life. Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and community.
  • These steps should be complemented by taking stock of one's well-being through regular mental health checkups and screenings. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it's a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
  • Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one's potential to lead a full and productive life. Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.

During the month of May, other mental health campaigns will be run across the United States with similar campaigns being run in Canada.    To participate in National Mental Health Month or to get further information,  check out the various resources available on the Mental Health America site including factsheets and the 2013 Media Toolkit. 




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