10 Ideas for Mental Health Month & Mental Illness Awareness Week
For over 70 years, the month of May has been dedicated to raising mental health awareness. During what is widely celebrated as Mental Health Month, organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Mental Health America, and NAMI take this time to spread knowledge and fight stigmas surrounding mental health and well-being. Other key mental health awareness events include Mental Illness Awareness Week, which take place between October 4th and 10th this year with a theme of “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know”, and World Mental Health Day, which occurs on October 10th.
The novel coronavirus has impacted the workforce as never before and in 2020, companies are making it a priority to promote the health of their employees. With nearly 1 in 5 adults of every age, race and gender facing mental health disorders – that’s 44.7 million working Americans according to the CDC– HR departments are uniquely positioned to encourage healthy mental and physical activities across their organizations.
National groups like the CDC recommend taking breaks from the news, meditating, taking time to relax, and connecting with family in stressful times. If you are looking for similar ideas on how to promote wellness within your organization, here are a few thought starters:
1) Wear Green During Mental Health Month
As many have turned to working from home in response to the pandemic, fill team video calls with a sense of togetherness by wearing green, the ribbon color of mental health awareness. You can radiate business casual vibes for client-facing calls or keep it cozy with a fleece. Make the best of the stay at home era with comfortable sweatpants!
2) Be Open About Mental Health
Knowledge is key. Provide information and resources about mental health and how to cope under stress. Mental Health America provides a Mental Health Awareness Month toolkit with tons of tips, infographics, information and resources for mental health that can be shared with teams. Continue to keep conversations open about mental health with mental health awareness wristlets or magnets to further break down stigmas.
3) Do Something Creative
Whether you are trying to keep your kids occupied at home or want to join in, try a stress-relieving coloring book. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy can be used to "explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, … reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem."
4) Keep It Light When You Can
With conditions cramped and everyone on edge, it’s important to laugh. The Mayo Clinic cites many short-term and long-term benefits of laughing, from soothing tension to improved immune systems. A Fun-To-Fidget Cube or a themed stress ball can help to lighten the mood.
5) Stay Physically Active
While we may be staying indoors more these days, it’s important to keep up a healthy and active lifestyle. Educate your employees on the values of exercise. There are many free online resources and apps that you can share!
Yoga is a great way to connect the mind and body, having been found to reduce many chronic health conditions. Add your logo to a customized yoga mat, or other fitness items like an on-the-go exercise kit.
6) Have A Glass of Water – And Another!
7) Stick to A Routine
8) Find a Retreat Within your Home
Since we are all cooped up, it is important that everyone has their own quiet space to be alone in. Set up a tranquil corner of your home with a healing aromas candle, essential oil spray or other branded aromatherapy gift.
9) Designate Time For Anxiety
It can be easy to lose track of time when every day seems to blend in to the next. Suggest your employees keep track of their activities in a journal or set fun activities ahead of schedule on a Wellness calendar so they have something special to look forward to each new day.
10) And remember to practice physical distancing, not social distancing
Isolation and loneliness are bad for humans. While we need to physically be apart, we can still connect socially with friends and family. It has never been more important to take stock of how your staff is coping with the unprecedented implications of coronavirus, especially during Mental Health Month. Be alone, together.
Mental Health Awareness Throughout the Year
May isn’t the only time to raise awareness of mental health. Mental Health Awareness Week takes place each year during the first full week of October. For 2020 the event spans from October 4th to October 10th. It was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate and increase awareness about mental illness.
World Mental Health Day is Saturday, October 10th, 2020. This event is an international day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
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