As May comes to an end my heart is full reflecting on all the many ways I saw fitness professionals fundraise and advocate in support of mental health awareness. Of course, you know this is more than just a month-long mission, so I wanted to share some additional ways you can continue to support mental health even after May.
5 ways you can support mental health awareness all year long:
1. Continue to educate yourself about mental health: Learn about the different types of mental health conditions, their symptoms, and treatment options. This can help you understand the challenges faced by the 1 in 5 people who experience mental health concerns and help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Useful online resources for mental health education can be found at the following websites:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Mental Health America
- American Psychological Association
Mental Health First Aid is also a great place to start learning more about the impact of mental health challenges and what you can do to help a friend in need. By becoming a Mental Health First Aider, if someone you know is struggling with their mental health you can offer support and encourage them to seek help if needed, and listen without judgment as a compassionate ally.
2. Listen to and read other’s stories: Hearing from people with lived experience can be a powerful experience. Stories not only shine a light on the stigma surrounding mental health and highlight the potential for recovery, they often reveal how connected we all are and remind us we’re not alone in our experiences. The NAMI blog is a great place to start if you’d like to search for stories of recovery. If you feel comfortable doing so, consider sharing your own story to the NAMI blog to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma around mental health.
3. Volunteer or make a donation: Many organizations and mental health clinics are looking for volunteers to help with events, fundraisers, and support groups. You can volunteer for an upcoming NAMIWalk or even become a peer support specialist. Crisis support services, like the Crisis Text Line and the Trevor Project, are often looking for the help of volunteers. Check with local organizations to see how you can make a difference by volunteering. You might also consider making a donation to a mental health organization that supports mental health research, education, or advocacy efforts.
4. Advocate for better mental health policies: Speak out about the importance of mental health care and encourage lawmakers to support mental health initiatives. Here are some helpful places to start:
5. Take care of your own mental health: Practice good self-care habits, such as regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep (you know the drill!). That cheesy line “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” really rings true for us fitness professionals. Make sure you’re caring for your own needs as much as you care for your clients and studio members. This includes seeking professional help if needed. Online screening tools and my free Mental Health Resource Guide for Fitness Professionals are a great place to start.
Remember, mental health is impacts everyone, and small acts can make a big difference in promoting mental health awareness.
Thank you for all that you do in support of physical AND mental wellbeing!