Next month is mental health awareness month. Mental health awareness week also takes place in May. I've got a couple of things planned in May to celebrate mental health awareness month. However, I thought it would be important to do this post before mental health awareness month commences so you guys can get as involved as possible.
You don't have to share your personal story. You don't have to do a crazy skydive or something outrageously brave. You can raise awareness within your day to day life without lifting a finger (quite literally) There are no excuses not to promote awareness of mental health. It's easy, cheap and affects everyone.
If you are still scratching your head, clueless what you could possibly do; here are my suggestions! I hope you find one here that suits you.
1) Call people out
This is the easiest thing you can do to raise awareness of mental health. Something everyone can do, which should not only be happening during mental health awareness month but every month of the year. So what do I mean when I say ' call people out'? How often do you hear someone say " I'm so OCD because..." or " My mates so bipolar. He's happy one minute and angry the next" or even " Gosh I was so suicidal when my favourite TV show ended"
Let that person know that what they are saying is not appropriate. OCD isn't a simple fear of germs. Bipolar isn't quick mood swings, and you can't just become suicidal over something trivial, like a TV show ending. These are all severe mental illnesses which are awful to live with if you have one. You don't have to get angry or raise your voice. Two wrongs do not make a right. Maybe point them in the direction of my blog or mental health charities like mind or time to change.
2) Share Your Story
You don't have to have a blog or YouTube channel to do this. Anyone can share their story. You could write a Facebook status, or if that's too cringey for you, you could reach out to a mental health charity. I know Time To Change are amazing at this. They accept stories on just about anything. They also promote them on their social media, to reach a large audience and help lots of people know they are not alone and suffering from a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you are not lucky with Time to Change there are lots of other mental health charities that would be more than happy to publish your story. Read their guidelines carefully and do your best. There is nothing to lose. You can always submit it anonymously if you would prefer. Just think of the people you could be helping.
3) Organise a talk in your school, college or uni
Okay, I admit this one may be the most difficult and out of your comfort zone, but it would be so worth it. I haven't done these, but I would LOVE to especially go back to my old secondary school and doing assemblies on mental health. Although the idea petrifies me, it also feels me with such a warm feeling inside. Just thinking about all the vulnerable young people I could support and educate about mental health, makes me so happy.
Even if they don't come up to me and say they learnt something or that they benefited from me talking to them. I know that deep down I would have, at least helped some of them. Everyone needs to look after their mental health whether they have a mental illness or not. If this sounds like something, you think you could do get in contact with your local schools etc. If you are at college or uni, talk to your tutor about doing a talk. I know that they would be delighted to have you educate, support and smash the stigma around mental health.
4) Arrange a coffee morning in your work place
I'm not sure how easy it is to do this as I've never done it, however, I suspect it's pretty easy. I can't see why your workplace would have an issue with it. Your workplace may be a busy and thriving place, where people don't really talk to each other especially not about mental health. One way people to find time to speak to each other is because of food more explicitly cake and coffee.
Arranging a day at work where people come and donate money to charity while enjoying a delicious slice of cake and can talk about mental health is beneficial for so many reasons. You don't have to be suffering from a mental illness to benefit from talking about your mental health. Even if you don't struggle with any aspect of your mental health, being there to listen to one of your work colleagues may really benefit them. By arranging a coffee morning, you will do an excellent job to spread awareness of mental health even if it's just amongst your work colleagues.
5) Share a link on your social media
There are so many brilliant Facebook groups and charity pages and accounts on Facebook but also Twitter. If you don't want to speak openly about your own experience with mental health yet, that's completely fine. No one can force you, but maybe if you follow Time to change, Mind or The Mighty on Facebook or Twitter and share a link they have shared, you are still helping smash the stigma around mental health indirectly.
I try and do this as much as I can. I think of all my friends on Facebook who struggles with their mental health or maybe aren't bloggers or aware of the supportive mental health community online. They may see something I shared and realise they are not alone and decide to seek some support. Think of how amazing that would be. Seeing mental health posts and content on Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds normalises mental health. Reduces the stigma and makes people more aware and less afraid of seeking help and support. This is something that we can all do but definitely don't do enough.
I hope you find at least one of these suggestions helpful. Let me know if there are any other ways you spread mental health awareness in the comments below! I would love to know!