How we can all focus more on wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Month

A roundup of tips and resources to support better mental health for all.

Caring for mental health is a task for everyone

National Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. has been observed each May since 1949. According to the 2023 State of Mental Health in America Report from Mental Health America, 21% of adults are experiencing a mental illness. That’s over 50 million Americans, including over 12.1 million adults who report serious thoughts about suicide.

What’s even more alarming is that 28% of all adults with mental illness reported they were not able to receive the treatment they needed, with most saying they could not afford treatment. This creates a clear window of opportunity for employers to fold mental health support into their benefits and employee assistance programs.

Last year, the Biden administration focused on promoting better mental health and launched the easier-to-remember “988” as the Nation’s new Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to help anyone having a crisis to reach lifesaving help immediately. In this year’s proclamation on the Mental Health Awareness Month, the President stated:

“As Americans, we have a duty of care to reach out to one another and leave no one behind. But so many of our friends, colleagues, and loved ones are battling mental health challenges, made worse by the isolation and trauma of COVID-19. Two in five adults report anxiety and depression, and two in five teens describe experiencing persistent sadness or hopelessness, exacerbated by social media, bullying, and gun violence. Drug overdose deaths are also near record highs, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. It does not have to be this way.”

A culture where people are encouraged to consider and care for their mental health, and the mental health of those around them, must be modeled by example. Here are some tips and resources for employees and employers to help move the needle toward better mental health.



For employees:

  • Practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising regularly. Even a 30-minute walk every day can boost mood and improve health.
  • Take mindfulness breaks throughout the workday to recharge and reduce stress. These can consist of whatever helps ground yourself and recharge — make a cup of tea, stretch, play with a pet, listen to some music, read a chapter of a book, etc.
  • Connect with coworkers and build supportive relationships. Have open conversations around mental wellbeing and share your own experiences, good or bad.
  • Seek professional mental health support, such as therapy or counseling. Start by looking at what services might be available through an employer benefits program.
  • Learn stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation, yoga, guided imagery or breathing exercises, and create opportunities for your employees to learn them, too. This helps better manage reactions to stressful situations and will allow you to communicate more effectively with others.

For employers:

  • Create a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that prioritizes mental health and destigmatizes. Encourage employees to speak up about any mental health concerns.
  • Address the prevalence of burnout affecting employees. Developing a strong partnership between comms and HR can help define and quantify burnout.
  • Provide employees with mental health resources and support, such as counseling, therapy or wellbeing workshops. These can also include scheduled policies like no meetings on Fridays, mandatory mindfulness breaks and more.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements that prioritize a work-life balance. That could include a hybrid work model, flexible hours or offering a monthly mental health wellness day, as examples.
  • Train managers to recognize and have those uncomfortable conversations about mental health. Leadership can do a lot to provide high levels of psychological safety on teams and in their departments.
  • Develop and implement policies and practices that prioritize mental health and wellbeing. If you’re unsure where to start, consider us May 16 for Ragan’s free webinar “Creating a Stigma-Free Mental Health Environment for Employees” where experts will go through the steps, considerations and a case study for positive mental health assurances in the workplace.

Beyond online and in-person therapy, here are some mental health resources for employees and employers to look at:

In the end, it’s really about employers, and especially leaders within the organization, to model a culture of openness around mental health and remove any negative stigmas. When employees know they can have these conversations with management and peers and be their authentic selves at work, they tend to be more productive and loyal in the end, as well as get the help they might need — which is what Mental Health Awareness Month is really all about.

Jon Minnick is a conference and awards events producer as well as a workplace wellness writer. He encourages everyone to check in on friends, family and colleagues, even just to let them know you’re there for them. 


One Response to “How we can all focus more on wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Month”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Should we identify the goal as not more “mental health” but more happiness? Healthy people can hate their boss or spouse or parents or today’s society without being mentally ill so could we cut down on mass shootings by getting people to think about successful ways to get rid of our troubles and tensions and even hatred?

    The active shooter in a shopping center may be crazy but what made him crazy? Even more important, can we create media coverage on ways he and we can get the happiness we deserve—and reduce the injustices that no one deserves?

    Like things we can join and causes we can support so we DO something about what bothers us and we make things better? PR can do this. Perhaps we should identify the objective not as “mental health” which almost identifies being conflicted–sorely troubled by the disparity between how things are and how we’d prefer them to be–as being crazy, but as something like more physical fitness, mood improvement opportunities and a more joyous life.

    MONEY! I use all caps because it so affects all our lives. Could we help literally millions of people by communicating ways of the wise to earn more as by taking courses and going to conferences, spend less as by looking ahead more, and avoid being screwed?

    SEX! We don’t have to spend hundreds an hour with a shrink in order to
    improve our night lives. Available to us are books, Google and our common sense.

    FAIRNESS! Injustice can be so awful that people go off the deep end and do mass murders or even kill themselves and people they know but can PR communication online, on TV and in newspapers show successful things people can DO to reduce the injustice around us?

    Some people may cheer for “mental health awareness” the way crowds cheer at a parade or sports events. But we in PR can do more than cheer. We can set our objectives and go get them. We should. Think what we could accomplish if we use our communication skills and wisdom to reach 500 million or a billion people a year with columns and broadcasts on “Mood Improvement Opportunities We Deserve.”

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