Content warning: This piece includes discussions and videos of mental health topics

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. If you’ve been wondering how you can support those struggling with their mental health, there are actions you can take right now that are as simple as reading a book to as brave as sharing your own story. Listed below are some steps that you can take throughout not only May, but also in the future to advocate for mental health.

  1. Wear Green

Green ribbons are a symbol of mental health awareness. The color green symbolizes ‘hope, support, and encouragement.” If fashion statements are your way of expressing yourself, consider wearing some green during May to show your support for mental health advocacy.

Sophia Haloulos / North by Northwestern

2. Make A Video

Share a 10-30 second video discussing your thoughts and/or experiences relating to mental health to the extent at which you are comfortable. Videos on social media platforms can be particularly powerful — they can reach a wide audience and can work toward destigmatizing conversations about mental health. If you do decide you’re comfortable sharing, here are some educational TikToks that may inspire you.

@mentalhealthtiktoks

hope this helps some of you #mentalhealthmatters #anxiety #breathingexercises #mentalhealth #fyp #mentalhealthsupport #panicattack

♬ Calm - Dmajormusic
@mentalhealthph

What I do to stop myself from overthinking. #mentalhealth #learnontiktok #mentalhealthph #overthinking

♬ original sound - mentalhealthph
@mdmotivator

⚠️ How To ‘FIX’ Mental Health #mentalhealth #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #anxeity #busythinkingabout #depresion

♬ Moon - Gage

3. Educate Yourself

A great first step to being an advocate (for anything, really) is to become educated and understand what you are advocating for. Here are some books recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness that will help guide you on that journey.

a. An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison (1997)

b. Laws We Need to Know: Understanding Rules and Programs for Persons with Mental Illness by Baron L. Miller

c. Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff (2008)

4. Reach out to friends and family

This one may seem obvious, but everyone needs support. Even when you think things are going well for your loved ones, consider showing those around you some care and sympathy. Send a quick text when you’re thinking of someone — it can go a long way. Offering your support to others is not only a great way to help them, but it is also a way to bring out your own best qualities.

5. Visit Mental Health America website

Check out Mental Health America for more! The 2021 Mental Health America theme for May is Tools 2 Thrive. Learn more about the campaign and their own tips for advocacy here.

I encourage you to do one or all of these things this May and even carry it on throughout the rest of the year. Of course, this list is not extensive. There are many other ways you can show support for Mental Health Awareness month, so use this list and your creativity to discover more actions you can take.

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