May is Mental Health Awareness Month - an ideal time for you to participate in educating the public about mental health issues, while simultaneously boosting your professional visibility in your community.
News media may be looking to interview mental health professionals in the next couple of weeks. Consider contacting them to share information that would be interesting and helpful to their audiences.
There will also be much conversation about mental health on social media. Follow and use these hashtags: #mentalhealth, #mentalhealthawareness, #MentalHealthMonth Other popular hashtags here.
Please consider participating in this international mental health awareness campaign. You may end up saving someone's life!
Free educational content for you to use
No need to spend a lot of time researching mental health statistics or preparing educational materials. Many agencies and organizations have content ready to use. For example:
Mental Health America has a free, downloadable toolkit with outreach ideas, fact sheets, sample social media posts, images, and dozens of links to resources.This year's theme: Light Up Green.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides anti-stigma messaging, powerful images, and "sentimojis" to help you spread the word. This year's theme: MoreThanEnough
MentalHealth.gov aggregates content from various government agencies that focus on mental health, including NIMH, Medline Plus, SAMHSA and others. Their content is free of copyright, so you can copy/paste it onto your website and your paper letterhead.
The National Council for Mental Wellbeing has statistics, graphics, sample social media messaging, and more, with links to other mental health organizations.
Also, check with your national and regional professional association for additional ideas and opportunities to educate the public about mental health.
Find content-specific resources
If you prefer to focus on a specific aspect of mental health during Mental Health Month, you can find resources by searching Google using the following syntax:
"mental health month" your keyword site:org
"mental health month" addiction site:org
"mental health month" divorce site:org
The above syntax instructs Google to retrieve information from websites ending in .org, most of which are non-profit associations and organizations.
You can also use site:edu or site:gov in your search to retrieve content from universities and government websites, respectively.
How to spread the word about mental health
1. As noted above, contact your local news media.
Rather than telling them that you can talk about many issues related to mental health during Mental Health Month, pitch a specific story idea to them. For example:
- The difference between feeling down and being depressed
- How to talk to a loved one about getting help for a mental health problem
- How pets contribute to emotional well-being
- Why friends are important for your mental health
2. Post infographics and other images from the organizations above on your website or blog.
Also check out NIMH's shareable resources - images, infographics and videos, which you can post on your blog or website.
3. Post on social media.
With your knowledge and experience, you can spot high-quality news items, videos and articles on mental health topics, including some of the above. Post excerpts or links to them on your social media accounts, thus providing a curated collection for your followers.
4. Participate in legislative advocacy to help improve access to mental health services.
Many mental health professional organizations have lobbying and/or advocacy activities, and they need help to educate legislators on how mental health services can reduce the overall cost of healthcare and provide additional benefits to the community.
Check to see what your profesional associations are doing, and offer to get involved.
Learn more ways to participate in advocacy at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing website.