Mental Health Awareness Calendar

LAX lit up purple on World Mental Health Day. Flickr / Amanda Todd Legacy

It can get a bit confusing keeping track of when each of the mental health awareness days, weeks, and months take place. In general, May and October are the primary months for mental health awareness. Within these months there are weeks and days designated especially for recognition of mental health awareness. In addition, there are days outside of these months related to mental health awareness, such as Bell's Let's Talk event held on January 28th each year.

All of these months, weeks, and days are geared towards reducing stigma, promoting conversation, and improving understanding. Below is a quick calendar listing with descriptions to help you sort them out.


* May 8th: National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

This day is aimed at raising awareness of why children's mental health is as equally important as children's physical health. The goal of this movement is to show that positive mental health among children is essential to healthy development.

* First Week of May: Mental Health Week (Canada)

The Canadian Mental Health Association's Mental Health Week in Canada is a national observation during the first week of May. It's goal is to encourage people from across the country to talk about issues related to mental health.

* First Week of May: Children's Mental Health Awareness Week

This is an official United States awareness event headed by the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.

* May: Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month began in 1949 (and was originally just a week). It follows a different theme each year. For example, the theme for 2010 was "Live Your Life Well."


* October 5th: National Day Without Stigma

The National Day Without Stigma was formed by the organization "Active Minds" as a way to reduce shame and discrimination around mental health disorders.

Suggestions for this day include watching your language (saying things like "She is crazy!"), writing messages with chalk in support, and reaching out to others.

* October 10th: World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is held annually to raise awareness about worldwide mental health issues and is initiated by the World Federation for Mental Health and supported by the United Nations (UN) through the World Health Organization (WHO). The event promotes open discussion and investment in prevention and treatment.

It is observed in more than 100 countries through public service announcements, educational sessions, and awards to individuals and organizations. World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992. People wear green ribbons to recognize the day, and national landmarks are lit up purple in recognition of the impact of bullying on mental health.

* First Week of October: Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW)

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was first enacted by Congress in 1990.

Although it failed to be re-enacted after 1993, it continues to be celebrated by national organizations including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) during the first week of October each year.

In celebration of this week, arts and music events, lectures, promotional campaigns, health fairs, movie nights, vigils, and benefit runs take place.


In addition to these nationally recognized events, there are also smaller locally recognized mental health awareness events. Every little bit counts, and these local events go a long way toward mobilizing local communities toward improved mental health awareness.

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