Mental Health Awareness Month 2023: How To Get Involved
Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) is an annual observation held during the month of May to raise public awareness about mental well-being, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and encourage people to seek professional help.
First established in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) is observed each year during the month of May to increase awareness about the critical importance of mental health, emotional wellness, and behavioral health and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) encourages organizations of all types, as well as adults, adolescents, and children, to come together to learn about these issues and break the stigma surrounding mental health conditions and mental illness during this annual event.
Mental Health In America
According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health and other official figures, 22.8% of American adults aged 18 or older (an estimated 57.8 million individuals) experienced some form of mental illness in 2021 alone.
However, less than half of these (26.5 million or 47.2%) participated in mental health services.
The diverse and often serious effects of these conditions, ranging from eating disorders to anxiety and panic disorders, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, impact not only those who experience them directly but also their families, loved ones, employers, and communities.
Moreover, estimates show between one-fifth and one-third of those who are uninsured in the United States are people with mental and/or substance use disorders. These same individuals also tend to experience stark disparities in terms of income, financial stability, employment, education, homelessness, and even life expectancy.
These are only some of the reasons why Mental Health Awareness Month exists, challenging the misconceptions that surround mental illness and mental health care and encouraging people of all ages, means, and backgrounds to reach out and take care of their own mental wellness.
How To Get Involved In Mental Health Awareness Month 2023
While Mental Health Month brings together major government and nonprofit organizations like SAMHSA, Mental Health America, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it is also an observance open to everyone who wishes to participate.
This includes hosting an event in your local area or attending events in-person or online through webinars and similar events.
You can find national SAMHSA-hosted events listed at the SAMHSA Mental Health Awareness Month homepage. You can also use the SAMHSA Mental Health Awareness Month Toolkit to access a variety of different event-specific resources, including:
- social media shareables (including email signatures and digital stickers) for each week of the event focusing on a different emphasis
- hashtags in English and Spanish to tie related content, posts, and discussions together into a unified conversation
- other social media guidance and best practices, including inclusive language guidelines and informational resources
- a conversation guide for engaging friends or loved ones in conversations about their mental or behavioral health, along with other tips and guides
MHAM 2023 Event Themes
In 2023, each week of Mental Health Awareness Month focuses on a different key message and theme:
Week One: Spreading Acceptance & Support
From May 1-7, the key message of the observance is focused on small actions, like sharing information and speaking openly about mental health, that can have a big impact and encourage people to have hope and seek help.
Week Two: Strategies For Managing Mental Health/Self Care
From May 8-14, the event focuses on maintaining positive mental health to support one’s overall health and quality of life. In other words, what does self-care look like for you?
Week Three: Promoting Acceptance & Compassion
Language matters, and from May 15-21 a focus will be placed on advocacy and open and compassionate language. Discussion will also include the impact this has on those who need the support of those around them.
Week Four: Seeking Help & Supporting others
May 22-28 will emphasize the importance of being aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and the importance of sharing resources and support from one person to the next.
Week Five: Hope & Positivity
During the last three days of the month the event will emphasize the importance of hope, encouragement, and recovery, highlighting that resources and help is always available for those who need it most.
Other 2023 Mental Health Observances
Behavioral and mental health awareness events and initiatives are held year-round in the United States and around the world, giving organizations ample opportunity to advocate for mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being.
Some yearly observances to note include:
- National Wellness Month (January)
- National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (observed in March)
- National Alcohol Awareness Month (April)
- National Prevention Week (observed in May)
- National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (observed in May)
- International Self-Care Day (Observed in July)
- National Recovery Month (September)
- National Suicide Prevention Month (September)
- World Suicide Prevention Day (observed in September)
- National Suicide Prevention Week (observed in September)
- National Substance Abuse Prevention Month (October)
- Depression Awareness Month (October)
- Mental Health Awareness Week (observed in October)
- Mental Illness Awareness Week (observed in October)
- World Mental Health Day (observed in October)
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- National Institute of Mental Health — Mental Illness https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness#:~:text=In%202021%2C%20among%20the%2014.1,treatment%20in%20the%20past%20year.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Mental Health Awareness Month https://www.samhsa.gov/programs/mental-health-awareness-month
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Mental Health Awareness Month Toolkit https://www.samhsa.gov/programs/mental-health-awareness-month/toolkit
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Mental Health Month https://wayback.archive-it.org/3926/20150121155432/http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/05/20120511b.html