How YOU Can Participate In The First-Ever Mental Health Action Day
Over the past year, we've seen firsthand the importance of mental health to survival and well-being. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and MusiCares, the premier music industry charity founded by the Recording Academy in 1989, is hosting events all month long.
To amplify Mental Health Awareness Month this year, MusiCares is coming together with nearly 200 nonprofits, industry leaders and brands like MTV to initiate the inaugural Mental Health Action Day, which officially launches today (May 20). Taking place every May 20, Mental Health Action Day is designed to support people to move from awareness toward taking action with their mental health.
Taking action means different things for everyone, and each individual person can choose any options that best fit them. To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some actions you can take to participate in the first-ever Mental Health Action Day today—and throughout the year!
Reach Out To A Friend
This past year has brought a lot of social isolation. Even though there are more ways to connect with people than ever nowadays, sometimes it can feel empty or superficial.
To break through those feelings of emptiness and superficiality, try reaching out to a trusted friend and asking them, "How are you doing right now?" The specificity of adding "right now" gives the question more immediacy and opens up the conversation for honest reflection, instead of the perfunctory "I'm fine" or "I'm OK."
If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health, reach out to a trusted friend to see if they can chat. Connecting and sharing can make us feel less alone. Plus, it's healthy to be self-aware: Acknowledging your emotions can help you assess actions you can take to move forward.
Find A Therapist
Talking to friends and family can be helpful, but sometimes we need a licensed professional—and an unbiased third party—to help us move forward. That's where therapy can really help. There's no doubt therapy can be expensive, so your first recommended step is to check if your health insurance covers counseling.
Secondly, you can check out Open Path Collective, which offers more affordable counseling. You can also contact local colleges and universities to see if they have clinics for students who are close to getting certified.
It's important to find a therapist with whom you can connect; that may mean finding a therapist who can relate to you on a deeper level. You can check out Therapy for Black Girls, LatinX Therapy and Asian Mental Health Collective.
Start A Meditation Practice
A great way to get back to the present moment and calm your mind is to start a regular meditation practice. Sometimes, meditation can be confused with eliminating your thoughts or worries. But really, it's more about awareness. It's about noticing the thoughts and emotions that pass and bringing yourself back to the present moment and the breath.
There are various types of meditation: silent, guided and topic-specific. Apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer can help you find a meditation practice that can support you with what you're going through. Start with five minutes a day and build up from there, if you want.
Join A Peer Support Group
If you're going through something difficult, like a divorce, addiction, depression, or the stresses of caregiving, you're not alone. It can feel isolating, though, and that's where peer support groups can help. Connecting with people and talking to others in your same situation can help you heal and overcome your struggles. Here is a list of peer support groups from Mental Health America.
Do A Self-Check-In
It's important to find support from others when we need it. However, it's equally important to check in with ourselves as well. Get out your journal and write down how you're really feeling.
- What do I need right now?
- What am I struggling with right now?
- How can I bring more joy to my daily activities?
Also, don't forget about basic self-care tasks like eating, drinking water and getting seven to nine hours of sleep each day. All of these things, if not taken care of properly, can affect our moods. You've probably heard of being "hangry" or have felt grumpy after a night of poor sleep—that's no coincidence. Take care of the basics so you stay fed, hydrated and rested.
Move Your Body
Emotions are energy in motion. Sometimes, it can feel like our emotions will eat us alive if we let them fester. That's why it's a good idea to move your body regularly. It can help move some of those emotions out of your body and release endorphins, which can help boost your mood.
You can try out boxing or dancing for something that is more high-intensity. If you need to take it easy, schedule your first yoga class or try stretching. You can check out Yoga With Adriene to get started.
Here's What MusiCares Is Doing For Mental Health Action Day
Throughout the month, MusiCares is presenting talks, panels and workshops that will explore the nuances of mental health among musicians and within the music industry, including a panel on breathing techniques through Breathwrk happening Thursday, May 20, at 1 p.m. PT.
Learn more about Mental Health Action Day to take action toward your mental health.