To raise awareness of mental illness, to educate people about its effects, and to help remove the stigma surrounding it, organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America run awareness campaigns every year in May. The following are four ways people can support the cause:
1. Take the pledge
The NAMI website asks individuals and companies to signify their commitment to learn more about mental illness, see people for themselves and not for their illnesses, and take action on mental health issues by signing the Stigma-free Pledge. Signing and sharing the pledge take less than a minute but go a long way towards promoting awareness and challenging stereotypes surrounding mental illnesses and the people who have them.
2. Share personal stories of living with mental illness
Various mental health organizations have created their own hashtags to be used throughout social media to spread awareness. Mental Health America asks participants in its May campaign to share their personal stories of living with mental illness on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and to tag their posts with “#mentalhealthfeelslike.”
NAMI asks individuals who wish to help spread awareness to use the hashtags “#StigmaFree,” “#MentalHealthMonth,” and “#Act4MentalHealth.”
3. Encourage local leaders to participate
People can deflect negative attitudes towards mental illnesses at the community level by speaking to their local leaders, such as their mayors, and encouraging them to recognize May as Mental Health Month via an official proclamation.
4. Walk for mental health
NAMI organizations advocate the adoption of public policy for the benefit of individuals with mental illness, and the provision of support and education to individuals with mental illnesses and their families. Those who are interested in the cause can raise both awareness and funds for NAMI projects by going on a NAMIWalk. NAMI’s charity walk program has raised over $4.8 m
illion in the past 13 years.
Simply taking part in the national conversation about mental health and taking action from the grassroots level up can further a national understanding of the scourge that afflicts many people today.