May is Mental Health Month, and even though it’s almost over, it’s a great time to start a conversation with your loved ones and those around you. Every year, millions of Americans attempt to manage their conditions while fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness. As a society, we can do more to provide support, advocate for quality care and educate the public in order to lighten their burden. Of course, the issues exist year-round but here are some ways that you can do even more during this month dedicated to raising awareness.

 

Wear Green

The color green has been designated to represent Mental Health Month. Of course, wearing some green clothing is the most obvious but if you are reluctant to wear an outfit in that hue, consider some green shoelaces, hair dye, nail polish or a simple ribbon. Encourage people in your workplace or school to choose a “Wear Green Day.” You can also show your support online by making your profiles a little greener. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a great Facebook cover photo.

Lend Your Voice

NAMI offers a wealth of information snippets that can be easily shared with your friends on social media for Mental Health Month. Be sure to include the hashtag #MentalHealthMonth when discussing the issue to help create a unified voice (and possibly become a trending topic!). If you enjoy being physically active, sign up for one of the great NAMIWalks. Also, never forget that your own experience can also save lives. If you have a story hope, consider sharing it on YANA (You Are Not Alone) or on NAMI’s Facebook page.

Activities

Even if you choose to make your recognition of Mental Health Month a more private, intimate affair that is shared with close loved ones, there are activities that can inspire and inform. Learn about the art and poetry of artists with mental health connections (see a show or exhibit, if possible!). Watch a film (or host a small movie screening!) that feature mental health in a holistic or positive way (Frankie & Alice or Call Me Crazy, for example). Honor someone you have lost with a candlelight vigil. There are many ways to participate this month, even if you wish to do so in a more personal manner.

Donate

The organizations that aim to help those living with mental health issues can only provide support if they have sufficient funding. A great way to both start a conversation and raise money is to host your own DIY Fundraiser. Of course, you can also donate in other ways including a personal contribution or a memorial gift.

During Mental Health Month, make an effort to educate yourself about the issues facing many men, women and children across the world. If you feel that you, or someone you know, could benefit from professional help, reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-888-999-NAMI.