May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By FCPS & Fairfax County Government
Healthy Minds
May 13, 2024

It would be nice to live in a world where everyone feels comfortable talking about their mental health – a world where seeking help is not met with stigma, but with support. That's the vision for May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

May is about encouraging open conversations to break down barriers that prevent people from seeking help. It is all about talking openly about how we are feeling, both happy and sad. Sometimes it is tough to talk about our feelings, but let this month be a reminder that we are not alone! Everyone has ups and downs in life, and now is a chance to break the silence and support each other.

But May is not just about talking! It is also about taking action to feel our best. Here are some things you can do to boost your mental health:

  • Do the things that make you happy! Do you love reading a good book curled up in a cozy corner? Maybe you enjoy playing outside with friends or learning a new skill. Whatever makes you smile and feel good, make time for it in your day.
  • Stay positive! Be grateful! Challenge those negative and discouraging thoughts by looking at them rationally and replacing them them with positive affirmations. Take time each day to practice gratitude by specifically listing the things in your life that you are grateful for.
  • Get your body moving! Exercise boosts your mood. Go for a walk in nature, have a dance party in your room, or join a recreational team. Small amounts of exercise build up, so just get moving even if you do not have dedicated extended time for physical acitivity. 
  • Fuel your brain with healthy food! Just like a car needs gas to run, your brain needs healthy food to work its best. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are fuel for your brain in helping you focus, learn, and simply feel good. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water helps too!
  • Get adequate sleep! Sleep is very important for your mind and body. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Create a relaxing bedtime routine and make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark for a good night's rest.
  • Practice deep breathing! Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Take a few slow, deep breaths. It might sound simple, but taking deep breaths can help you calm down and feel more relaxed. Here are 10 breathing exercises (accompanied with videos) to try when you are feeling stressed.
  • Celebrate your sucesses! Celebrating your wins, big or small, is a powerful way to boost mental health. Take a moment to acknowledge your achievement, reward yourself, or share it with someone. Even a small celebration reinforces positive feelings and behaviors to keep you energized and pushing forward.
  • Connect with others! We all need strong connections with friends, family, and loved ones. Talking to people who make you feel good can really boost your mood. Hang out with your friends, chat with a family member, or join a club to meet new people.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help! If you are feeling down or struggling, there is no shame in talking to someone about it! A friend, parent, teacher, or counselor can be a great listener and offer support. They can be your cheerleader and help you find healthy ways to cope with tough times.

May is a month to celebrate mental health and take care of ourselves and each other. By doing these things and talking openly about how we feel, we can all have a happier, healthier May – and the rest of the year too!

Looking for more resources? Now is a great time to explore resources and organizations dedicated to mental health awareness and support.

Healthy Minds News shares information related to youth mental health and wellness for an audience of parent, educators and community-based providers. Articles include tips and strategies for increasing wellness and resiliency, as well as fostering success at home, at school and in the community. This is a collaborative project between Fairfax County Public Schools and the Prevention Unit of the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. It is part of the Healthy Minds Fairfax initiative, designed to support emotional wellness in youth and families.

If you or someone you care about is in crisis or needs help, TAKE ACTION!