5/5/21 Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

James E. Hayes, D. Min., M. Div., Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

I want to take advantage of the calendar to remind us all that May is National Mental Health Awareness month. If you’re not aware of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter. NAMI Iowa does a great job of keeping us all up to date on mental health issues. Here are some suggestions they make to keep mental health front of mind during May:

https://nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month 

While mental health is important every day, take some time to reflect and grow this Mental Health Month. In May, we encourage you to push yourself. Learn something new about mental health. Share your experiences with loved ones. Take the leap into getting help. Support someone you know is in need.

The Center’s 23rd annual Women Helping Women event is an opportunity to recognize the special month while also making it possible for those who are underinsured to have access to mental health services. The Center is pleased to honor and celebrate Angela Connolly who has done so much for our community and mental health awareness — and feature keynote speaker Tiffany Johnson who calls our community to greater understanding through theater. Please join us! 

Other suggestions include:

MAY 20 | Wear Green for Mental Health: Dust off your St. Patrick’s Day green as we join our friends at Make It OK Iowa in wearing green. Green is the official color for mental-health awareness, so don’t forget to go green May 20th!

Share your favorite photos on social media using the hashtags #MakeItOk and #Iamstigmafree 

I appreciate all the suggestions offered by NAMI and others to help us work together on our mental wellness. I wonder what other opportunities we might find in order to spark conversations around mental health. I find that when I meet people and they ask what I do, it almost always leads to conversations about mental health. Surprise, huh?  That says to me that all of us have work to do when it comes to our mental wellness—our own, that of our families, and even of strangers who might be looking for an opening in conversation to talk.

I’d like to challenge all of us to consider how we might bring up the subject in the coming weeks. Here’s an option to consider: When in a regular conversation with someone, mention that you just read something about it being mental health awareness month. You could even tell them you read this blog! Then you could float an inviting question to see if it goes anywhere. Example, “It seems to me that stigma seems to be improving and more people are willing to talk about their mental health or that seeing a counselor seems as normal as going to your doctor. Does it seem that way to you?”

Awareness is an important step when it comes to seeking help. I hope you’ll join us in this effort to increase awareness of the Center in the month of May and beyond. We are here to walk with people on the path to hope and healing. Thanks for all you do to make this mission possible.

To read more of Jim’s blogs, click HERE

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