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What Is Mental Health Awareness and Why Is It Important?

The purpose of any awareness campaign is to raise visibility of societal problems in the hope of addressing barriers and finding solutions. Mental Health Awareness Month is no different.

May is the month when mental health organizations campaign to increase awareness and change the way society thinks about mental health.

We use the term mental health to describe a person’s emotional and psychological well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It can determine how well we take care of ourselves, how we interact with others, how we navigate life’ s challenges, and how content we are overall [1].

Mental health awareness is the understanding that mental health is an important part of a person's wellbeing, and that mental health challenges are a normal part of the human experience. About half of all adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with a mental illness every year [1].

What Do We Hope to Achieve with A Mental Health Awareness Campaign?

We want to reduce stigma and discrimination aimed at individuals who experience mental illness or mental health challenges. Stigma is a set of negative, unfair societal beliefs about circumstances, characteristics, or conditions. Mental health stigma results in societal disapproval that reduces the likelihood that an individual will seek treatment or even ask for social support [3]. Stigma and discrimination can range from being dismissed or minimized with phrases such as “suck it up and move on” or “get over it”, being called offensive names and losing friends, to even being denied a job. Many people report that the stigma is just as bad as the mental health challenge itself [2].

Mental health issues tend to worsen when left unaddressed, but getting help early on improves both short- and long-term outcomes [2]. Mental Health Awareness Month is all about removing barriers to accessing the support and treatment that can improve so many people's quality of life.

The Message

1. Mental health challenges and mental illness are real and experienced by about half of the adult population in the US

2. Mental health is as important as physical health

3. Poor mental health negatively impacts our ability to cope with stress and enjoy our lives

4. Mental health can be improved through individual behaviors, by external support systems, and through professional treatment options

The Goal

1. Improve the attitudes and behaviors directed towards people with mental health challenges

2. Reduce the amount of stigma and discrimination experienced by people with mental health challenges in society, personal relationships, and work

3. Normalize mental health treatment as a standard of care for personal wellbeing

4. Improve the overall wellness of our communities by eliminating barriers to mental health support

How You Can Help

1. Educate yourself. Click the buttons below for more information

2. Change your own language around mental health and set a good example

3. Be vocal; be an advocate when you hear someone minimizing or discriminating against someone with mental health challenges

4. Speak openly about mental health and listen non-judgmentally to people who may be facing challenges

5. Take care of your own mental health through appropriate self-care and treatment if necessary

1. “About Mental Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 April 2023,

2. “Why Attitudes to Mental Health Matter.” Time to Change, (Date Accessed May 8, 2023)

3. Zoppi, Lois. “What is Stigma?” Medical News Today, 10 November 2020.Mental health stigma: Definition, examples, effects, and tips (


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