When is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month is widely observed worldwide, particularly in the US, during May.

Some universities in the United States, however, celebrate this month during October to coincide with the spike in the need for mental health support.

In the UK, Mental Health Awareness week is celebrated from 15–21 May each year, tackling various themes such as loneliness, kindness, body image, and more. This year’s theme is Anxiety.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month, and why is it important?

Mental illnesses cost the global economy $1 trillion yearly, predominantly in reduced productivity. People with mental illnesses experience higher mortality rates, and the prevailing stigma attached to acknowledging, discussing, and seeking care prevents people from being diagnosed correctly and cured. 

Mental Health Awareness Month is a reminder and an opportunity for organizations to break the stigma around mental illnesses through awareness initiatives and celebrations that spotlight the resources and support available to employees throughout the year. 

Mental Health Awareness Month is also a time to renew organizational commitment to fulfilling mental health-related SDG goals. Action these goals through purposeful employee engagement and volunteering initiatives that raise awareness, support communities disproportionately affected by mental health challenges, or by simply spending time with those battling these challenges.

Here’s why mental health awareness is important

  1. Awareness reduces the stigma attached to mental illness:

Equipping employees and local communities with accurate information and resources can promote public awareness and destigmatize seeking treatment and support for these illnesses.

  1. Helps individuals understand their own symptoms:

Often mental health is a concept a lot of us acknowledge on a certain behavioral level but struggle to accept and work through when spotted in ourselves. Through engaging activities and resources during this month individuals can understand and address their challenges.

What are the benefits of mental health awareness in the workplace? 

  • Reduced talent attrition

Increasingly, employees are leaving their organizations for mental health reasons (Source). Stress, burnout, and unsustainable work are some of the mental health challenges employees today face. Organizations can offer support through mental health training, team-building activities, resources, and mentor support to help employees feel equipped and supported throughout their employee journey.

  • Increased employee productivity

Employees supported by their organizations are more productive and engaged in the workplace (Source). Additionally, they experience higher levels of job satisfaction and become strong promoters of their organizations.

  • Improved diversity, culture, and belonging

Younger employees and historically underrepresented groups like the LGBTQ+, Hispanic, and Black communities are more likely to experience mental health symptoms. By supporting these groups, organizations can build psychologically safe workplaces that attract and retain diverse talent. 

Top 10 Mental Health Awareness Month Ideas for the Workplace

Placing mental health at the center of our workplace conversations is an everyday necessity. It is important to ensure that our employees’ mental health is taken care of, and they feel like ‘we’re in this together’. We need to create organizations and teams that put psychological safety first – this will help everyone thrive, and keep personal and professional outcomes optimal. Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time to enable wellness at work for employees. 

You can start by incorporating these ideas:

  • Mental Health Awareness Month activities to engage employees and encourage self-care
  • Volunteering for community mental health
  • HR-led employee engagement activities for better mental health
  • Mental Health Month team building activities

One of the best ways to start today is by Volunteering for your communities’ mental health and for your own. Use this May as a time to set organization-wide good mental health practices for your employees. Here are some ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month that HRs, ERG heads, and CSR teams can check out:

1. Volunteering

Woman recording an audiobook

One of the best ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is by volunteering and team engagement to help your community and your employees better on their mental health journeys. You can indulge in engaging activities that ensure good mental health for children, isolated adults, youth, and your own employees. Goodera’s Mental Health Awareness catalog has a mix of activities that will help your employees and organization collectively work towards better mental health for all.

2. 10-minute meditation session every day of May

A man meditating

Meditation is one of the best ways to improve mental health. Let individual team leaders implement this in the Mental Health Awareness Month across teams in morning meetings. Employees will feel great throughout the day and develop a great habit.

3. Host weekly listening circles

Teams split into listening circles

Form small groups of employees (across teams – people who don’t interact enough) and host a 30-minute listening circle every week of the Mental Health Awareness Month where employees can safely share how they are feeling and others can ask them ‘Are we ok?’

4. Comfort Santa, like Secret Santa but with cards

Employee crafts comforting messages

Mental Health Awareness Month activities can be a whole lot of fun and become meaningful with warm words. Provide a bunch of empty greeting cards in common areas, and place a drop box as well. Invite everyone to write an anonymous message expressing support or comfort to any colleague (could be to themselves as well) and drop it in the drop box. At the end of the month, distribute these cards to those who they were written for. 

5. Bring Your Pet-to-Work Day

Employee brings pet to work

Pets and animals can ease stress. Pick a day, or a slot for a virtual call during the Mental Health Awareness Month of May, when all your employees with pets are encouraged to bring their pets to work or to a pet-introduction call where everyone gets to meet pets, spend time with some furry friends, and relieve stress. 

6. Gratitude Box

Gratitude box

This Mental Health Awareness Month, gift your employees a small, eco-friendly gratitude box in which they can drop in a chit every day about one thing at work or in their personal lives that they are grateful for. This will help them develop a sense of purpose and contentment in their professional as well as personal lives. 

7. Safe Upward feedback sessions

Manager engages in a feedback session

HRs can encourage team leaders to set up one-on-one sessions with their reportees to seek upward feedback to start off sustainable practises in Mental Health Awareness Month. The team leaders can encourage their reportees by sharing something about themselves that they think they need to improve, and invite their reportees to provide constructive, open feedback. This is the first step to setting up psychological safety and building cultures of learning, where all employees can maintain a good mental health and help work thrive. 

8. Passing the Goodness Parcel

Employees share complimentary messages

Set up a call or a meeting with teams that work together where each person shares something they like or a reason they enjoy working with the person next to them, and so on. This will help everyone feel appreciated and valued – great feelings to maintain a happy mind. This activity can be continued on beyond the Mental Health Awareness Month as well. 

9. Games Day

Teams engage in outdoor sports

Maintaining good physical health and pumping some serotonin is actually a great way to regulate the body and mind. Organize a day of sports and other games, add some competitive spirit, and watch your employees rejuvenate and recharge for your employees’ mental wellbeing. Maybe make it a monthly thing! 

10. Arts-based Therapy Booths

Arts-based therapy booth with supplies

Set up an arts-based therapy booth for your employees throughout the Mental Health Awareness Month. You can add coloring pens, pencils, crayons, art and craft papers, and coloring books for them to use in short breaks or when they’re feeling stressed. A few minutes of art can make a big difference to one’s mental health.

There are many ways employers can ensure that employees’ mental health is taken care of and that they feel supported and safe at the workplace. It is especially important that people from marginalized communities speak up about the challenges they face at the workplace and how we can contribute to safer environments.

These were our 10 activity ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month, but if you’re looking for more ways to engage your employees, <rte-link_business-popup>reach out to our engagement experts<rte-link_business-popup> .

Volunteer Opportunities for Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health charities to partner with this Mental Health Awarenss Month

These nonprofits are working to destigmatize mental health issues, advancing professional development thorough resilience workshops, providing support through innovative mediums, and promoting awareness in our communities. Few of the most impactful mental health charities are Arts Holding Hands and Hearts (AHHAH), Love Is Outreach, Cardz For Kidz, and Letters to Strangers (L2S). Check out Goodera’s Top 10 Mental Health Charities for the full list.

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