It’s May 1st, which means it is Mental Health Awareness Month. If we are lucky, there will be a lot of discussion, around diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues. Awareness months are always an interesting time. Events spring up, folks get involved, ribbons are worn, and then for the most part discussion disappears until the same time next year. Yes, the work is being done year round, but the attention isn’t the same. You hope that issues brought to light during the 30- to 31-day period are enough to help make some everlasting change. I embrace the months, but wish we didn’t need them.

While doing a bit of research and trying to figure out how to be a bit more active this month, I was inspired by poet and mental health advocate Bassey Ikipi to take a closer look at my words. Ikipi was responding to an article where the woman was quoted saying she didn’t want a “bipolar” man. Despite my work interest in the health field, I realized that I’m not always cognizant of how my words impact people. I wondered if there were any sayings or side comments that I filed under the “just how I speak,” category that actually contributed to stigma associated with mental illness.

I decided that this month, I’d be super conscious of word choices as they connect to mental health. It might seem like a big deal, but 31 days is more than enough to build a habit. If I can be aware of my language, and maybe even make others aware of theirs, then maybe I’ll have one more thing to carry with me beyond this awareness month.

Are you observing Mental Health Awareness Month? If so, why and how?

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  • elle

    Watching our words is the best way to start. From casually throwing around cray or schizo, we lessen the significance of mental illnesses. I’ m going to take the challenge myself.

  • Lish

    I think people of color need to do more at confronting their mental health. Personally when an individual is more aware of their mental state they become a better person and more productive.

  • Dreaming

    Having poor mental health is stigmatized, but it is also embraced in a foolish way. Like, people stating that they have ADHD, Bi-polar disease, or OCD because of a few quirky things that they do.

  • Sankofa

    I rarely hear people talk about Mental Health in the Black community growing up I just felt like I was alone in my problems or simply weak because I didn’t have the same strong Black woman persona. I was wrong many of my family members have tell tale signs of Depression, Alzheimers and other diseases. The first step is admitting we have this problems and dealing with them NOT as weaknesses but as facts of life.