Mental Health Awareness Month

Its History And How It Affects Us Today


Mental Health Awareness Month, Photo Courtesy of The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority

This article contains potentially triggering topics: mental illness, depression, eating disorders, suicide, and anxiety.
Please be aware of your mental state before reading and reach out to the appropriate source linked below the article.

Many individuals around the world struggle with their mental health daily. Nearly one in every four adults in America (59.2 million people) are affected by mental illness and about 970 million people around the world struggle with a mental health disorder. Mental Health Awareness Month raises awareness about mental illness; fighting to break the stigma, educate, and provide support for individuals with mental illness and their families. 

Clifford Whittingham Beers in 1908

The Creation of Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was first celebrated in 1949 after being created by the organization. MHA, originally the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, was founded by Clifford Whittingham Beers in 1909. Beers originally created the foundation to ensure that patients being treated for mental illness not only received the proper care but that they also never felt alone.

Mental Health Awareness Month Themes

Since its creation, Mental Health Awareness Month has been given an annual theme. The theme for 2022 is Back to Basics. This theme is meant to refresh the knowledge of mental health and basic mental health care after living amidst a pandemic with isolation, stress, and uncertainty the past two years. The following are the themes of Mental Health Awareness Month from the past decade: 

Mental Health Around Us

Mental health surrounds us in our daily lives. Recently, awareness has been brought to the mental health of athletes. After the tragic loss of sophomore Lauren Bernett, catcher on the James Madison University (JMU) softball team, the mental health of athletes has been a popular topic. Statistics show that 35% of professional athletes and 33% of student athletes struggle with mental illness such as anxiety, eating disorders, burnout, or depression. The NCAA has released their solution to this issue by stating, “Under the NCAA constitution, each member school is charged with facilitating an environment that reinforces physical and mental health within athletics by ensuring access to appropriate resources and open engagement with respect to physical and mental health.”

Instagram post made by @jmusoftball in memorial of sophomore Lauren Bernett

Not only do we see mental illness within athletes, but we see it in our media. Many individuals that we idolize struggle with their mental health. Some examples of this are Demi Lovato, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, and Adele. Gaga personally says, “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that the depth that they feel as human beings is normal.” Mental health is everywhere, help #BreaktheStigma during Mental Health Awareness month this year. 

I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. I just want these kids to know that the depth that they feel as human beings is normal.

— Lady Gaga

Helpful Resources:

Crisis Services: Dial 211 – Help when you feel really anxious or really depressed and need someone to talk with so that you can stay safe.

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255 – Help if you are thinking about suicide.