By Mary Giliberti, J.D., NAMI Executive Director
NAMI works every day to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illness. The month of May is a time when we can join forces to make a bigger statement by observing Mental Health Month. Each year NAMI provides support, educates the public and advocates for equal care for the millions of Americans affected by illness—and each year the movement grows stronger. In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront of our thoughts.
We encourage you to speak up and step out this month—whether that’s on your own or with NAMI. We recently created a Mental Health Month resource hub online that provides ideas and activities, links to NAMI activities such as our Green Light Initiative, an opportunity to share your personal story and other ways to “go green.”
In addition, Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 4-10. May 8 marks Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. NAMI has created resources around this important topic, including presentations and fact sheets on early identification, warning signs and statistics on mental health in youth. NAMI also offers Ending the Silence, an in-school, lived-experience presentation on mental health for high school students, as well as NAMI On Campus, a college-based club that supports students’ mental health. We also offer an online community for youth and young adults, StrengthofUs.org, where individuals can connect with peers online.
Highlighting mental health issues during May provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the 60 million Americans affected by mental illness. Together as a nation, we need to be the champions of new ideas, education and supports that improve both treatment and life outcomes for everyone who lives with mental illness. May is a time when we can embrace and advance this bold vision for the sake of our loved ones, ourselves and the one in four adults and one in 10 children affected by mental illness every year in the United States.