Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition.
National Mental Health Month raises awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States. In recent times, attitudes towards mental health issues appear to be changing. Negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental health have reduced and there has been growing acceptance towards mental health issues and support for people with them. Despite this shift in attitude, the idea of a mental health awareness campaign is not a recent one. In the late 1940’s, the first National Mental Health Awareness Week was launched in the United States.
During the 1960’s, this annual, weekly campaign was upgraded to a monthly one with May the designated month.
During this month, National Health America, the main organization which sponsors this event, run a number of activities which are often based on a theme. In 2010, the theme was ‘Live Your Life Well’. ‘Live Your Life Well’ encouraged people to take responsibility for the prevention of mental health issues during times of personal challenge and stress. Many mental health problems can be avoided by taking positive lifestyle choices in how we act and think before they can manifest.
This year’s Mental Health Month theme to the content of its 2017 Annual Conference: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll. The MHM campaign is titled Risky Business, and will educate the public on habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or are signs of mental health problems themselves. These include such diverse risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet/gaming addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns.
The intent behind this theme is to raise awareness of the risks that these types of behaviors present—especially to young people—to help individuals detect these early warning signs, and to provide resources for prevention and early intervention.