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9 Ideas for Mental Health Month & Mental Illness Awareness Week

updated: February 28, 2024
10 Ideas for Mental Health Month & Mental Illness Awareness Week

For over 70 years, the month of May has been dedicated to raising mental health awareness. During what is widely celebrated as Mental Health Month, organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Mental Health America, and NAMI take this time to spread knowledge and fight stigmas surrounding mental health and well-being. Other key mental health awareness events include Mental Illness Awareness Week, which takes place between October 6-12, 2024, and World Mental Health Day, which occurs on October 10th.

With the ever-changing world we live in, companies are making it a priority to promote the health and well-being of their employees. With nearly 1 in 5 adults of every age, race and gender facing mental health disorders – that’s 44.7 million working Americans according to the CDC– HR departments are uniquely positioned to encourage healthy mental and physical activities across their organizations.

National groups like the CDC recommend taking breaks from the news, meditating, taking time to relax, and connecting with family in stressful times. If you are looking for similar ideas on how to promote wellness within your organization, here are a few thought starters:

1. Wear Green During Mental Health Month

Fill the office or team video calls with a sense of togetherness by wearing green t-shirts, the ribbon color of mental health awareness. You can radiate business casual vibes for client-facing calls with custom polos or keep it cozy with a fleece jacket like the Bristol Half Zip.

2. Be Open About Mental Health

Knowledge is key. Provide information and resources about mental health and how to cope under stress. Mental Health America provides a Mental Health Awareness Month toolkit with tons of tips, infographics, information and resources for mental health that can be shared with teams. Continue to keep conversations open about mental health with mental health awareness wristlets or magnets to further break down stigmas.

3. Do Something Creative

Whether at home or the office, take a few minutes to focus on a creative activity like a stress-relieving coloring book. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy can be used to "explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, … reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem."

4. Keep It Light When You Can

Laughter is a contagious way to spread a little extra joy around the office. The Mayo Clinic cites many short-term and long-term benefits of laughing, from soothing tension to improved immune systems. A stress reliever like the Fun-To-Fidget Cube or a Brain shaped stress ball can help to lighten the mood. Other funny office gifts like socks with the boss’s face on them, or back scratchers are sure to get a laugh.

5. Stay Physically Active

With the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, educate your employees on the values of exercise. There are many free online resources and apps that you can share!

Yoga is a great way to connect the mind and body, having been found to reduce many chronic health conditions. Add your logo to a customized yoga mat, or other fitness items like a mixing ball tumbler or exercise stretch band.

6. Have A Glass of Water – And Another!

After endorsing all of this physical activity, make sure to keep your employees hydrated. Fun water bottles or tumblers with straws make it easier to fill up on the recommended 8 glasses a day!

7. Stick to A Routine

Motivate coworkers and friends to stick to a schedule. It can help to start and end your day with things that bring you joy, whether that’s enjoying a cup of coffee, taking your dog for a walk, or trying a new recipe.

8. Find a Retreat Within your Home

It is important that everyone has their own quiet space to be alone in. Encourage employees to set up a tranquil corner of their home with a Stonewall Home Soy Blend Candle, Essential Oil Dropper Bottle or other branded aromatherapy gifts.

9. Designate Time For Anxiety Prevention

It can be easy to lose track of time when every day seems to blend in to the next. Suggest your employees keep track of their activities in a journal or set fun activities ahead of schedule on a Wellness calendar so they have something special to look forward to each new day.

FAQ About Mental Health Awareness Events Throughout the Year

When is Mental Illness Awareness Week?
Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place each year during the first full week of October. For 2024 the event spans from October 6-12.
When did Mental Illness Awareness Week begin?
It Mental Illness Awareness Week was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to educate and increase awareness about mental illness.
When is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is Monday, October 10th, 2024.
What is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is an international day for mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma.
When did World Mental Heath Day Start?
World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
When is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health Awareness Month is recognized yearly during the month of May.
What is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health Awareness is an event created with the goals of raising awareness of mental health issues, erasing stigma around speaking about mental illness and getting treatment, disseminating mental health education, and advocacy for individuals and families dealing with mental illness.
What did Mental Health Awareness Month start?
Mental Health Awareness Month began in 1949.
Who started Mental Health Awareness Month?
An organization called Mental Health America started Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949. Over time, they have been joined in recognizing this event by many other organizations including NAMI and the US Department of Health.
What can companies do for Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Health Awareness Month and World Mental Health Day?
One of the simplest and most powerful activities for workplaces is to designate a place a time for a group photo with everyone wearing green, the awareness color for mental health. Ask for a voluntary show of hands for people who have struggled with mental health issues themselves and again for people who have been impacted by the mental health issues of family and friends. The numbers will speak for themselves to remove the stigma associated with these very common, but challenging issues, but it’s a good idea to cite a few facts to back that concept up. That’s your opportunity to make everyone aware of the mental health resources available at or through your company, and to point them to HR for further help on accessing these tools. Simply put, let your staff know that they are not alone.

You may also want to post flyers citing company and public mental health resources in your breakroom and restroom, and add this same information to your employee intranet, so your staff has the information they need to reach out for help.