Every May since 1949 has been commemorated as Mental Health Awareness Month. During this month we “raise awareness about the importance of mental health and its impact on the well-being of all Americans.” Mental health and mental illness affects a wide swathe of the country, in 2020 nearly 53 million, or one in five, US adults lived with a mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has organized a slate of programming for the month which can be found here.
In the National Library of Medicine’s historical collections there are lots of mental health related items, including this collection of Mental Health Motion Pictures which contains “nearly 200 films and videorecordings produced from the 1930s up to and including 1970”. These provide a fascinating historical look into how mental health and illnesses were viewed, presented and treated. Many are available digitally and freely, so check them out!
Within May there are a few specific days and weeks to be aware of which are related to Mental Health Awareness Month. There’s SAMHSA’s Prevention Day 2022 on May 9th, which begins National Prevention Week, which brings together communities and organizations to raise awareness about the importance of substance use prevention and mental health, two issues that are often deeply connected. Learn more here about Prevention Week and programming.
SAMHSA has also been the organizer of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which is May 7th, since 2005. It’s goal is to “to shine a national spotlight on the importance of caring for every child’s mental health and to reinforce the message that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development.” Learn more about the day at the link above and about community events here.