May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or eating disorders. The pandemic has exacerbated these struggles and introduced for many new feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress. 

During the month of May, organizations and individuals join the national movement to raise awareness about the significance of caring for your mental health. Each year, we fight stigmas and stereotypes, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental illnesses and their families. 

For this Mental Health Awareness Month, BATRA wants to offer three tips on how you can use recreation, leisure, and play to take time for your own mental health. 

  1. Utilize Self-Care 

Practicing self-care is a great way to prioritize your mental health. Regular self-care that “refills your cup” can prevent burnout which helps lessen the feelings of stress and anxiety and increase energy. Self-care can look different for different people. It is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health. 

  1. Try New Recreation, Leisure, and Play

As recreation therapists, we know the value of a good time on our well-being! However, it is easy to get stuck in the rut of familiar recreational activities and or even feeling like we do not have enough time to participate in recreation, leisure, and play. Revitalize your recreation, leisure, and play by trying a new activity. Challenge yourself this month to try that dance class you’ve had your eye on, or grab a group of friends for a hike you have never tried before. The benefits of trying something new could be endless. 

  1. Use Your Leisure Time to Give Back

Studies have shown that volunteering has numerous benefits on our mental health, such as increasing mindfulness and feelings of gratitude. Volunteering your time is a great way to become a better mental health advocate and give back to organizations supporting the cause. You’ll not only actively help others, but you’ll also get the opportunity to directly engage with your local community as a mental health ally. Here are a few ideas for how to get involved this month:

  • Volunteer for a local mental health organization
  • Attend an awareness walk or other event benefiting the mental health movement
  • Encourage your local politicians to prioritize mental health resources in your community
  • Correct and educate those who use stigmatizing language

If you, or someone you know, is struggling, you are not alone. Feel free to share the following mental health resources and seek professional help. 

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call 800-273-TALK for free, confidential support available 24/7.⁠⠀

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