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May: Mental Health Awareness Month    

May: Mental Health Awareness Month

By Hallie Belle Sheinbaum

At Madhappy and The Local Optimist, we are on a continuous mission to make the world a more optimistic place by offering advice and creating conversation around mental health. One of the very few silver linings of this past year was the increase of attention shed on this topic and those who experience mental health disorders. Even with this increased attention, there is still a stigma that exists. It is our goal to open up the conversation in a safe and healthy way in order to destigmatize mental health. 

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). Even though we dedicate this month to highlight mental health awareness, the reality is that people who deal with mental health do so on a daily basis. 

Here are some ways to honor MHAM. 

1. Start the conversation

Let's be honest. Not everyone feels comfortable asking for help or guidance. Sometimes, just reaching out to someone and letting them know you are there for them can make all the difference. Call a friend who you haven't spoken to in a while. Talking on the phone can create a stronger connection and social bond than texting or emailing. When on the phone, ask them how they are really doing and listen. Your words make a difference.

2. Take care of yourself

Prioritize your mental and physical health.  Cleanse yourself from social media for a couple of days, go to those doctor’s appointments you have been postponing, drink that extra glass of water, take that exercise class you have been eyeing, spend at least 20 minutes outside a day, and unfollow those accounts that don't make you feel good. 

3. Befriend mental health

Be a mental health ally by educating yourself on mental health, use trauma-informed language (say “they experience bipolar disorder” vs. “they are bipolar”), and understand that asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

4. Give from your heart… and your pocket

Giving to others can make you feel good. Studies show that giving away your money (vs. keeping it for yourself) can actually lead to a boost in happiness. A great way to give is to donate to Project Healthy Minds (PHM) here. By giving to PHM, you will help reduce the stigma around mental health, build technology that makes it easier to discover the right help, and expand access to care. 

5. Share your story and your resources 

If you feel comfortable, then consider sharing your story in a safe environment.  Sometimes your personal story can resonate on a universal level. Even sharing a post or resource on social media can make someone else feel more supported and less isolated. 

To get you started, here is a list of some resources that we recommend:

Crisis Text Line

Text ‘HELLO’ to 741-741 

National Suicide Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

The Trevor Project

Text ‘START’ to 678678 or dial (866) 488-7386. For LGBTQIA+ youth under 25, get 24/7 crisis intervention & suicide prevention lifeline support.

The Local Optimist Hotline

Text “Hotline” to 310.299.9414 for mental health resources and support.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline

Call 800-950-NAMI (6264) for information, resources, and support Monday-Friday 10:00 am-6:00 pm ET 

APISAA Therapist Directory 

Reduced fee therapy and support for Filipino/a/x and Asian community.

Clinicians of Color

Resource for finding a BIPOC therapist

My Wellbeing 

Therapy Matchmaking Service in NY and CA. 

We will get more into the discussion as the month goes on, and we want to hear from you, too. What does mental health mean to you? When did you become aware that your mental health is important? Let us know in the comments below or text The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.