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Happy World Mental Health Day! Each year, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) joins the World Health Organization to raise awareness about mental health around the world and support those experiencing mental health and substance use challenges.

In honor of the observance, we are sharing 10 achievable ways you can take action to protect and promote mental wellbeing today and every day.

  1. Share Your Mental Wellbeing Story

MHFA is creating a platform for individuals with lived experience to share their insight with the MHFA community and the world — and help change the narrative surrounding mental wellbeing.

Storytelling is powerful and can provide mental health benefits like increased positive emotions, empathy, memory retention and more. Exploring personal stories, reflecting on them and sharing them with others can also help us process, heal and grow. Your stories can also inspire hope for others living with a mental health or substance use challenge.

You have until tonight at 11:59 p.m. ET to submit your story. When you do, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a stuffed ALGEE koala or a complimentary registration to NatCon23 in Los Angeles, California, May 1-3, 2023.

NOTE: Not all submissions will be published. If your submission is selected, we will contact you at the email address provided with additional information and next steps.

  1. Add These Numbers to Your Contacts

No one is immune to mental health challenges, and MHFA wants you to be prepared when you or someone around you needs help. Add the following important resources to your contact list. They could make an impactful difference in your own life or the life of someone you know.

  • • Call 911 in an emergency, if you feel unable to keep yourself safe or if someone appears at risk of self-harm.
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial or text 988 for 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Text 838-255 OR dial 988, then press 1 to get 24/7 confidential crisis support. Responders are real people, many of them veterans, who are specially trained to support veterans.
  • The Trevor Project: Text “Start” to 678-678 OR call 866-488-7386 all day, any day to reach trained counselors who can support people under 25 who are in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk. The Trevor Project specializes in supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 800-656-4673 (HOPE) for confidential support services for survivors, regardless of where they are in their recovery.
  • National Eating Disorders Helpline: Call or text 800-931-2237 for support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one who may be experiencing an eating disorder.

You can also save this graphic on your device for a quick reference guide and share it on your social media channels!

  1. Take a Mental Health Day

Did you know that more than half of workers do not use all of their paid leave even though it can increase life satisfaction, improve mental wellbeing, reduce heart disease risks and reduce anxiety and depression? Feeling some level of stress related to work, school or just life in general is understandable, but if it begins to affect your everyday mood, your personal relationships or your mental health, and you’re feeling burned out, it could be time to take some time away for you, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days.

We know that asking for time off from a job can be intimidating, so here’s a guide from MHFA on how to ask your boss.

  1. Find an MHFA Instructor in Your Community

With the number of people facing mental health and substance use challenges on the rise, it is more important than ever before to equip communities with the skills to recognize and respond to the signs and symptoms that indicate someone may need help. That’s exactly what MHFA Instructors do!

To find an Instructor near you and learn how you can implement MHFA within your community, visit the Find-a-Course tool, enter your city/state and scroll down to see a list of Instructors. Filter to see only Instructors by using the course/Instructor toggle buttons on the left-hand side of your screen.

Anyone with a passion for wellbeing can make a difference, and no specific academic or professional credentials are required to become an MHFA Instructor. Looking for more reasons to get certified? Check out this blog post.

  1. Talk About Mental Wellbeing

The past few years have been challenging (to put it mildly) and have brought on an unprecedented mental health crisis. Two out of five adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression. Want to help? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, simply talking to someone sympathetic in your life about your mental health challenges can help reduce your stress and improve your mood.

While it might seem difficult or awkward, it doesn’t have to be. Just a few words – like asking someone how they’re feeling — can make a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start, MHFA has the answer! Check out this blog for five tips to start a conversation about mental health.

  1. Practice Self-care

Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress and increase happiness! In fact, Americans participating in a December 2020 national survey cited benefits of self-care like enhanced self-confidence (64%), increased productivity (67%) and happiness (71%).

Self-care does not need to be time-consuming or expensive. It’s up to you — choose practices that make you feel refueled (culinary self-care, anyone?).

While creating and sticking to any type of routine can feel daunting, it doesn’t have to be. See how members of the MHFA stay well and read our new blog post for examples of daily, weekly and monthly self-care practices you can try today.

  1. Register for the 2023 MHFA Summit

As a Mental Health First Aider, you are helping destigmatize mental health and substance use challenges to make wellbeing — including recovery from substance use — a reality for everyone. Take the next step and register for the 2023 Mental Health First Aid Summit! Even if you’re not an MHFA Instructor yet, read on if interested in attending.

At the Summit, you can expect to:

  • • Explore industry-leading curriculum designed to help you strengthen your skill sets.
  • • Experience panels on everything from cultural awareness to funding your MHFA initiative.
  • • Hear inspiring stories from likeminded peers and public figures in our space.
  • • Uncover strategies for reaching new audiences in your community.
  • • Potentially earn continuing education units (CEUs) to aid in your professional development.

Future MHFA Instructors: By now, you’ve probably heard of the Great Resignation. Did you know that 31% of the 4.3 million U.S. workers who left their jobs in January 2022 did so to become self-employed, 65% of employees say they are rethinking the place that work should have in their lives and 56% say they want to contribute more to society?

If these points strike a chord with you, becoming a certified MHFA Instructor may be the solution! Learn more about how you can join the 15,000+ Instructors on the frontlines of MHFA across the country and read up on the benefits of becoming an MHFA Instructor.

  1. Learn How Culture Influences Our Mental Health

Culture shapes people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors when it comes to wellbeing. We know that historically marginalized communities, such as Black and Indigenous communities and people of color, face disproportionate challenges around access to and quality of mental health and substance use care. But also, some cultures might value having family included in mental health decisions, and some people may not. Likewise, some people may turn to a chaplain, spiritual leader or healer for mental health help first rather than a medical doctor, while others may choose the doctor.

When you’re helping people who come from cultural backgrounds different from your own, it’s important to understand how to create a culturally safe environment. MHFA offers great resources on this topic so you can #BeTheDifference:

  1. Advocate for Mental Wellbeing

With one in five adults experiencing a mental health challenge each year, we must all advocate for mental health policies that help increase access to care and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and substance use challenges. Here are a few ways you can speak up for mental wellbeing:

  • Sign up for advocacy alerts to help urge your elected officials to make meaningful policy changes.
  • • Share mental health resources with your network via social media.
  • Subscribe to the Capitol Connector newsletter to stay in the know on the latest policy news.
  • Write your legislator to ensure your voice is heard when it comes to important issues impacting your community.
  • Encourage your friends, family and community members to get trained in Mental Health First Aid.
  • Apply to become a National Council Ambassador to highlight the local impact of federal policies.
  • Donate to The National Council to help us connect people to care, advance health care through advocacy, increase mental health literacy and invest in the mental health and substance use treatment workforce.
  1. Celebrate World Mental Health Day!

We can all celebrate World Mental Health Day by committing to making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority. Let’s continue to take action toward improving the mental wellbeing of our communities, starting with ourselves. To celebrate today, consider:

  • • Doing a random act of kindness, which has proven emotional benefits and can help strengthen social ties and one’s sense of community.
  • • Making a coffee or tea date with a friend or loved one to connect and enjoy quality time together.
  • • Taking a moment to practice gratitude, which can improve mental health and boost relationships with others.

Remember to tag us @MentalHealthFirstAidUSA when posting on Facebook and Instagram, and @MHFirstAidUSA when posting on Twitter. If you enjoyed learning about mental wellbeing this October and want to get more involved, be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and the new MHFA Digest to get the latest MHFA blogs, news and updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference on this World Mental Health Day — and every day!

 

References

Dowling, B., Mugayar-Baldocchi, M., Schaninger, B., & Talloen, J. (2022). The brave new (business) world. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-organization-blog/the-brave-new-business-world.

Field, B. (2021). How storytelling is good for your mental health. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-storytelling-is-good-for-your-mental-health-5199744.

Fontinelle, A. (2022). The Great Resignation. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/the-great-resignation-5199074.

Glowiak, M. (2020). What is self-care and why is it important for you? Southern New Hampshire University. https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/newsroom/health/what-is-self-care.

Kolmar, C. (2022). 50+ telling paid time off (PTO) statistics [2022]: Average PTO in the United States. Zippia. https://www.zippia.com/advice/pto-statistics/#:~:text=their%20time%20off.-,American%20workers%20failed%20to%20use%20768%20million%20days%20of%20PTO,up%20from%2025.9%25%20in%202017.

Mindful Staff. (n.d.). How to practice gratitude. Mindful. https://www.mindful.org/how-to-practice-gratitude/.

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Disclosing to others. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Disclosing-to-Others.

Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Cox, C., & Garfield, R. (2021). The implications of COVID-19 for mental health and substance use. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/.

Sweet, J. (2021, Feb. 10). How random acts of kindness can boost your health during the pandemic. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-random-acts-of-kindness-can-boost-your-health-5105301.

The White House. (2022). FACT SHEET: President Biden to announce strategy to address our national mental health crisis, as part of unity agenda in his first state of the union. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/03/01/fact-sheet-president-biden-to-announce-strategy-to-address-our-national-mental-health-crisis-as-part-of-unity-agenda-in-his-first-state-of-the-union/?msclkid=42a06f3cb4e611ec98fc979c05a5efed.

Vagaro. (2021, Jan. 14). Vagaro survey finds three-quarters of Americans believe self-care activities provide stress relief. Vagaro. https://news.vagaro.com/press-release/survey-finds-three-quarters-of-americans-believe-self-care-activities-provide-stress-relief.

Weir, K. (2021, Jan. 1). There’s a new push to reach underserved communities. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/01/trends-underserved-communities#:~:text=Marginalized%2520communities%2520often%2520face%2520hardships%2520such%2520as%2520poverty,White%25E2%2580%2594who%2520don%25E2%2580%2599t%2520tend%2520to%2520share%2520one%25E2%2580%2599s%2520lived%2520experiences.

Wiles, J. (2022). Employees seek personal value and purpose at work. Be prepared to deliver. Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/employees-seek-personal-value-and-purpose-at-work-be-prepared-to-deliver.

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