May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year; and we know this is increasingly an issue with America’s youth.

While there are effective treatments available, many individuals with known mental health issues never seek help from a professional due to stigma, discrimination, a lack of resources, or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, you have the opportunity to inspire others to raise awareness and take part in the sharing of information, tools, and support for mental health issues. You can make a legitimate difference and help change the narrative from negative to one of positive affirmation.

4 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

Talk About It

The first step in raising awareness for mental health is your willingness to talk to people about it. When you ask someone how his or her day was, ask sincerely. Talk to people about how they are really feeling, rather than passively ask without waiting for a genuine answer. Everyone has something they’re willing to share, and your willingness to talk about your mental health will surely rub off on those around you.

Share Your Story

Just like your willingness to talk about mental health will influence others, so will your willingness to share your story. Your personal mental health journey may not be very easy to talk about, but it is imperative if you want to raise awareness to those in your community. People connect and identify with your story, no matter how personal it may be. Others have had very similar experiences, and hearing your story will motivate others to do the same.

Encourage Others

There are many ways you can encourage others when it comes to mental health. A great first step is to encourage non-judgmental speak. This is one way to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness. Encourage friends and loved ones to be screened for mental illness and talk to mental health professionals. Encourage people around you to eat healthy meals that will keep their mental health in check.

Learn and Educate

Learn the signs and symptoms of depression. Know what to look for in yourself and people around you, and teach your friends and family the signs as well. Learn what to do if someone talks about or threatens suicide. Memorize the Suicide Prevention Hotline number (1-800-273-TALK), and share it with others. All of these tools will help you know what to do in case of emergency, and spreading the word will only create more advocates for mental health in your community. It’s time to erase the stigma and educate everyone you know.

If you’re ready to seek professional treatment for your mental health condition, SAMHSA’s helpline and web-based behavioral health treatment services locator can help you find information about treatment providers, therapists counselors, support groups, and community resources in your area.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month. Children and families thrive when they have access

to safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Learn how to prevent child abuse and neglect before it

begins with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) resources!

Child Abuse Prevention

Each day more than five children die as a result of abuse or neglect. On average, a child abuse report is made

every 10 seconds for a total of approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports annually. Child help has developed

the following child abuse prevention guidelines to help keep your child, or a child you care for, from becoming a

statistic.

Child Abuse Prevention Guidelines

 Never discipline your child when your anger is out of control.

 Participate in your child’s activities and get to know your child’s friends.

 Never leave your child unattended, especially in the car.

 Teach your child to use their voice to allow them to prevent abuse in their own life.

 Ask questions; for example, when your child tells you he or she doesn’t want to be with someone, this

could be a red flag.

 Listen to them and believe what they say.

 Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior or attitude and inquire into it.

 Teach your child what to do if you and your child become separated while away from home.

 Teach your child the correct names of his/her private body parts.

 Be alert for any talk that reveals premature sexual understanding.

 Pay attention when someone shows greater than normal interest in your child.

 Make certain your child’s school or day care center will release him/her only to you or someone you

officially designate.

To learn more about Child Abuse prevention, call the Child help National Child Abuse Hotline at

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). The 24/7 hotline is staffed with professional counselors who offer

information about child abuse prevention as well as crisis intervention, literature and referrals to thousands

of emergencies, social service and support resources.

Benevolent Family Services, use the month March to focus on International Women's Day. International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

What values drive International Women's Day?

International Women's Day means different things to different people, but the global focus on equality and celebration is clear.

Throughout ancient and modern history, women have collaborated and lead purposeful action to redress inequality in the hope of a better future for their communities, children and themselves. Whether through bold well-documented action or through humble resistance that never made it into the history books, women have united for equality and achievement forever.

Along the way one particularly powerful collaboration lead to the formation of a globally united moment for women across countries to come together in hope and action. That moment is "International Women's Day".

Started in the early 1900's, the almighty and tenacious Suffragettes forged purposeful action for equality. It was the Suffragettes who started International Women's Day, with the first officially named "International Women's Day" event held in 1911.

And still to this day, International Women's Day continues to be a powerful platform globally that unifies tenacity and drives action for gender parity, while celebrating the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women.

Values that guide International Women's Day provide direction for the type of action, behavior and ethos associated with this critical and globally-supported day.

Ten values that guide International Women's Day are:

  1. Justice

  2. Dignity

  3. Hope

  4. Equality

  5. Collaboration

  6. Tenacity

  7. Appreciation

  8. Respect

  9. Empathy

  10. Forgiveness