Mental Health Awareness Month: What Can I Do?

Jake Newby

| 5 min read

Millions of people work, perform, create, compete, laugh and love while either working through or hiding a mental health disorder. One in five U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2021, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which states that 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24. People across all walks of life and age groups are impacted by mental health issues in some way. If you are not experiencing them, someone in your life is.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There is more access to help and resources than ever before, so it benefits you and the people around you to take some time this month to educate, spread awareness and care for your own mental state.

How to get involved during Mental Health Awareness Month

Here are four ways you can take part in Mental Health Awareness Month this year:
Have discussions with family and friends: Mental illness is very much a worldwide epidemic, but discussing the topic is less stigmatized today than it was 10 or 20 years ago. With that in mind, start conversations with your loved ones. Ask and be direct, as hesitating can make the topic seem taboo. Even your friends and family members who seem strong on the outside can benefit from opening up about their mental health. Ask questions, listen intently, and go back and check in on them periodically. If you cultivate that open line of communication, they may make it a habit to reach out to you and do the same.
Spread awareness alongside your community: Check online and on social media to find out if your area is hosting mental health walks, 5Ks and events in May. Many local “Stomp Out Stigma” chapters, for example, are promoting events this month. Visit NAMI’s “NAMIWalks” page to learn about their potential walks in your area, including virtual opportunities.
Get in on the conversation on social media: Four of the most trusted and recognizable mental health organizations in the U.S. released their 2024 Mental Health Awareness Month toolkits. Click each for access:
These toolkits include do-it-yourself tools, hashtags to use to join the conversation, and downloadable handouts and graphics to help spread awareness throughout your communities and networks.
Support a mental health organization: Consider donating your time, money or resources to local, regional and national nonprofit mental health organizations.

Nurture your own mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month

Many of us don’t dedicate enough time to nurturing our mental wellness. Try incorporating some of these self-care practices into your everyday life this month if you don’t already. Maybe some of them will stick: 
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated: Increase your energy and focus levels by eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Be mindful to cut back on caffeine and alcohol intake, especially as the day winds down, to protect sleep quality.
  • Get regular exercise: Thirty minutes of walking a day can boost mood and improve health. Just getting moving is important; remember that small amounts of exercise add up.
  • Prioritize sleep: Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every night, even on weekends. Improve your sleep environment by setting a comfortable temperature and unplugging from devices two hours before bedtime.
  • Find a relaxing activity that’s right for you: Breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, relaxing music and reading are all great, low-stress hobbies to lean on to break up the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Taking time to disconnect from our phones in favor of some of these activities can positively impact mental health.
  • Stay connected: Reach out to friends and family members and engage in discussions about mental wellness, as mentioned above. Loved ones can provide emotional support. Regular human connection means more than you might think.
  • Consider positive-self talk: According to the National Science Foundation, up to 80% of your daily thoughts can be negative. Positive self-talk can reduce stress, build self-esteem and help us find perspective. It’s an exercise and an opportunity to remind yourself of the things you are grateful for and the success you’ve achieved.

Reach out for help

Help is available. In addition to reaching out to the organizations listed above for help, you can also call or text the 988 mental health crisis hotline. Additionally, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network can help members find an in-network mental health professional by calling behavioral health access lines listed below:
PPO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-762-2382
A free and confidential resource that’s just a call away when you need immediate support. Behavioral health professionals answer, 24/7.
HMO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-482-5982
Connect with a behavioral health clinician if you need help finding a mental health or substance use provider. Behavioral health clinicians are available for routine assistance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For urgent concerns after hours, clinicians are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Learn more about mental health and options you have as a member to seek help by clicking here.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association