Guide to observing Mental Health Awareness Month

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, these are a few ways in which individuals and organizations can practice mental health and wellbeing.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Started in 1949 by the organization Mental Health America, Mental Health Awareness Month is recognized each May across the U.S. This month encourages each of us to recognize the importance of mental health and take action to destigmatize discussing wellbeing at work.

Why is it important?

Employees everywhere are navigating deadlines, goals, and workplace tensions alongside an ongoing pandemic, global conflicts, violence against their communities, and the inevitable turmoils that come with being human – illness, finances, breakups, loss of loved ones. Many of us are still adjusting to remote or hybrid work, which can further increase pressure to produce, manage competing priorities, and connect meaningfully in new ways with our colleagues. It’s a lot. So much, in fact, that conversations on burnout and languishing become common in team meetings and board rooms alike. Regardless of your functional role or level, you can be a champion for mental health at your organization.

What can you do?

1. Check in with yourself

Sometimes the best indicator of how we’re doing internally is how we’re showing up externally. Have you found yourself getting frustrated easily? Are you feeling a lack of motivation or an inability to focus? Have teammates mentioned that you don’t seem like yourself? You may not always be able to see the signs that you need to slow down or recharge. It’s okay to seek support from a loved one, meditative practice, wellness app, or trained professional to fully check in with yourself! This doesn’t always have to be a solitary practice, but it should happen regularly. It’s critical that you’ve assessed whether you have the emotional capacity before you take on a support role for others.

2. Check in with your colleagues

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, and the relationships we develop often extend beyond brainstorms and deadlines — colleagues may be the first to know when challenging life circumstances arise. Asking how your teammates are (really) doing can go a long way in creating an environment where your team can show up authentically and honestly.

3. Know the resources

Even if you don’t personally engage your organization’s mental health benefits, it’s helpful to know what they are and how to access them. Many employers offer an employee assistance program in addition to the mental health professionals available through insurance networks. Reach out to your organization’s leaders, HR team, or employee communities to learn more about the resources available and consider sharing what you learn with your colleagues.

4. Set and maintain boundaries

Even if you deeply love what you do, protecting time for other important parts of your life is critical to prioritizing mental health. Whether it’s time with loved ones, a hobby, or space to simply reset alone, we all deserve to experience joy and relaxation after our hard work. Your actions also serve as a model for colleagues to follow, and taking care of yourself gives others permission to do the same.

4. Host a conversation with your colleagues

Within your sphere of influence, hold space this month for a conversation about mental health. Add it to your team meeting agenda, start a Slack discussion thread, or hold an employee community event — carve out time to connect with your peers about how you can intentionally foster mental wellbeing in your workplace.

Find more resources on building belonging at work here, and check out the first enterprise SaaS ecosystem for building belonging at work, Mindr Connect.