The history and impact of Mental Health Awareness Month

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Audrey Combs

During Wellness Week, AV Counselors distributed self-care toolkits for students at the quad during lunch.

In 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month was established to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. This was largely due to World War II, as there was an increasing number of soldiers experiencing symptoms of mental illness impacting their mood, thinking, and behavior. 

“Mental Health Awareness month is a time to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues. This month promotes resources for those who are struggling with mental illness or know someone with a disorder,” said AV Wellness Counselor, Jennifer Yu.

Students at Amador often celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month in many ways. A popular method is by spreading kind messages on social media, for example, reposting informational posts, or checking in with friends.

“This year, I chose to take time and listen to myself unconditionally. What this meant for me was taking a break when I could, trying to sleep by a specific time each month, unplugging for a few hours every day, and spending more time with the people I love,” said AV Psychology Club Officer Vaishali Sukumar (‘23).

AV Counselors have put together plenty of resources for students to utilize. This includes fully opening the Wellness Center, where students can have a reliable place to de-stress and talk to a counselor. Previously, they also passed out care packages and stickers to students during lunch. 

“Counselors are taking inspiration from the CA Student Mental Health Week toolkit and themes and adopting our own wellness week here at Amador. We just want to be visible this week and encourage students to think about their wellness more,” said Yu.

Mental Health Awareness Month was started by Mental Health America, which originated from the National Committee for Mental Hygiene created by Clifford W. Beers, William James, and Adolf Meyer. This was because they realized the lack of appropriate care given to those with mental illness, and sought to fix this problem. 

“Other organizations also join together this month in sharing materials or conducting outreach activities. [It’s helpful to] donate to support mental health awareness efforts, since there are a lot of organizations out there that advocate for mental health awareness year-round” said Yu. 

 

Although Mental Health Awareness Month is only in May, it is important to always be mindful of mental health conditions. Due to the stigma, many people assume that mental health is less important than physical health, making them feel uncomfortable when seeking help.

“With a month of awareness, creators, along with people who value mental health awareness, are given a recognized time to discuss mental health,” said  Sukumar.