May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The United States celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Typically, the month sparks significant media coverage as well as numerous advocacy and awareness events. Follow these steps to observe Mental Health Awareness Month.
=== Get a Mental Health Check-Up ===
Just like physical check-ups, mental health check-ups can be invaluable in detecting mental health problems before they become serious. Consider asking for a simple evaluation from your physician or health professional for you and your family members, or take stock of your health personally.
Visit your health professional. Talk about any troubling symptoms such as excessive anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, sadness, suicidal or violent thoughts, thoughts of death, appetite or weight changes, and any other signs that you find worrisome or debilitating.
Keep track of your symptoms. If you suspect a mental health imbalance in yourself or a family member, consider tracking the frequency, severity, and duration of worrisome symptoms until a visit with a counselor or health professional can be arranged.
Ask for a mental health evaluation. Mental health tests exist for conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder, and many health professionals can also identify potential personality or mood disorders, substance abuse problems, or other conditions that merit further treatment by conducting an initial evaluation during an office visit.
=== Attend an Advocacy or Awareness Event ===
Many universities, charities, hospitals, rehab centers, and advocacy organizations sponsor events to fundraise or spread awareness for mental health issues. Search for something that interests you and consider donating your time or money to the advocacy event.
Find an event in your area. If local hospitals or community organizations are not actively advertising an event, check lists of national organizations or check museums, concert halls, schools, and conference centers for other events.
Donate your time or money to an event. Many organizations can benefit greatly by even small donations.
-If you are unable to make a financial gift, consider donating your time as a volunteer or making a public appearance at a rally or event to show your support. Some organizations use ribbons, colors, silence, prayer, and other free activities to spread the word about mental health issues.
=== Get Certified in Mental Health First Aid ===
Getting certified in Mental Health First Aid is an affordable, easy way to learn how to help individuals when they are experiencing a mental health emergency. This type of training can help a loved one or even a stranger cope with a mental health crisis and get appropriate care.
Attend a local training session. Mental Health First Aid training sessions are offered in many countries, and are available several times each year in some locations.
-The sessions are available to community members, teachers, and health professionals alike.
Consider becoming a trainer. After registering for or receiving the initial training, consider encouraging others to attend the training or learning how to train others yourself.
Use your techniques. Once you have learned the first aid skills, do not be afraid to put them to use – they may save the life or health of someone you love.
=== Volunteer to Help Individuals with Mental Health Problems ===
One of the most helpful and satisfying ways to observe Mental Health Awareness Month is to volunteer to help individuals experiencing mental health problems. Look for local organizations or health facilities that treat people with mental health conditions and call to offer assistance, or sign up during an awareness event for groups specifically seeking assistance.
Volunteer with a crisis hotline. Mental health hotlines regularly need assistance answering phones and advertising their availability.
Help with a counseling organization. Crisis centers can often use assistance with everything from paperwork to front desk work, and many may even need help offering advice and information to visitors in need.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or rehabilitation center. Organizations like these often deal with individuals in great need of mental health assistance as well as medical or social help.


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Are you interested in what you can do to work on your own mental health for the month of May? Check out this great calendar with a mental health tip for each day of the month. Click here to download and print at home.