Counselor’s Corner: Mental Health Awareness Month (Part 1)

Read Part 2 of this series, to learn more about advocating for children diagnosed with a mental disorder.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Pathways to Wellness,” serves as a reminder that you do not have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to take action for better mental health. Mental Health America recommends four main steps on the pathway to wellness: a healthy diet, regular exercise, relaxation, and plenty of rest. Below I will discuss ways you can celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by promoting better mental health and wellness in your workplace.

Celebrate with Healthy Snacks

Apples by Anish Rocsta wikimedia commonsShowcase ways you can make healthier choices in your diet by hosting a healthy snack break to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month. Create a sign-up sheet where different groups can volunteer to bring a healthy snack. Suggest options that include fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed foods. At the healthy snack break, educate staff members about the benefits of having a healthy diet and the recommended nutrition guidelines. You can also share information from my post about National Nutrition Month.

Walk Together

Exercise can make you feel happier, more productive, and healthier. Invite coworkers to walk before or after work at a nearby track or around your building. Walking is a great low-impact exercise. Walking as a group will allow you to interact with people with whom you may not normally interact. Before or after your group walk, share the benefits of exercise with your coworkers. You could make walking a regular part of your routine by having weekly walk meet-ups with coworkers.

Schedule Relaxation
Tai Chi class by Slvillasboas wikimedia commonsRelaxation helps you reduce stress and feel better. Educate staff on different relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, yoga, and meditation. The Mayo Clinic has a great list of relaxation techniques. You can schedule a relaxation break each day and announce their start and end time over the intercom in your building. You could also invite a yoga instructor to teach your staff a few simple yoga moves that they can do to relax and reduce stress. You could practice yoga as a group or individually. Children and adolescents can also benefit from yoga for relaxation and stress reduction.

Host a Pajama Day

Getting enough sleep is a very important aspect of good mental health and wellness. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. To raise awareness of the impact of sleep on mental health and wellness, host a pajama day! Have staff members (and students if you work in a school) pay a dollar to dress down and wear pajamas for a day. Donate the money raised to a charity that supports mental health and wellness.

Mental Health America has lots of great free resources on their website for promoting Mental Health Awareness Month. What ways have you helped raise awareness about mental health in your workplace? In what ways do you care for your mental health?

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About Danielle R. Schultz

School Counselor blogger for Free Spirit Publishing Blog
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