On May 20, 2021, a coalition of more than 1,400 nonprofits, brands, government agencies, and influential leaders came together to shift our mental health culture from awareness to action on the first Mental Health Action Day.
That world-wide day of action kicked off an ongoing collaboration among partners from all sectors focused on encouraging people to take actions to improve mental health. That coalition is now known as the Mental Health Action Network.
Use the messaging guidance and GIFs below on your digital and social media channels to continue to shift your community to take action and support each other. Don't forget to use and promote the hashtag #MentalHealthAction.
Mental health can be a tough topic to talk about. Here are some basic guidelines to make sure you encourage and empower your audience to take action.
Encourage and empower your community to take #MentalHealthAction in whatever way feels right for them. That can mean taking time to connect with themselves, connecting with a friend or family member, practicing yoga, meditation or other self-calming activities, finding a support group or therapist. Or it can mean taking an action to support systemic change that improves mental health access and equity. There are many ways to encourage people to take mental health action and improve overall well-being.
Highlight free and easily accessible resources. Remember that therapy, telehealth options and support groups are not easily accessible for everyone. Highlight actions that are free and open to all including setting aside time for self-calming activities, taking an action to expand equity and access to mental health services, or direct them to a Mental Health Action Network partner that provides free resources.
Encourage people to share their stories. End the stigma and support the demystification of mental health action-taking by encouraging your audience to share their experience and what works for them through social media, text messages, and other communications that reach their community.
Find local or community-specific and culturally competent partners to amplify. Partner with mental health organizations that can support your community with the most targeted and appropriate resources.
Emphasize that mental health is a part of overall health. Remind people that, just as there are things they do to take care of their physical health, there are things they can do to take care of their mental health.
Encourage your community to create space to listen. Use language that promotes meeting people where they are and that allows them to share their personal experience without interruption or judgement.
Ask your audience to invite others to join them in taking action. Encourage them to share out Mental Health Action Network partner resources our resource hub: Mental Health Is Health.
Use inclusive language that promotes the importance of mental health and encourages a shared understanding of mental health.
Don’t focus only on specific mental health conditions. Focus instead on the full spectrum of mental health journeys and that everyone has mental health that they need to take care of.
Don’t ask people to do anything that is uncomfortable for them. Don’t ask your audience to share anything with friends, family, co-workers or online that they’re not comfortable sharing.
Don’t reinforce or overstate stigma. Watch out for narratives that overemphasize stigma, judgment, or mistreatment toward people with mental health challenges, which can prevent viewers from speaking up if they are struggling.
Don’t share potentially harmful details. Avoid unintentionally providing information or reinforcing misconceptions that could make someone engage in similar behaviors.
Don’t define people by their conditions and avoid words like “suffering” or “victim.” Instead emphasize people are “living with” conditions like depression and anxiety. The person may not be "suffering" all the time from a mental health condition.
Don’t lean into stereotypes. Be mindful of stereotypes when depicting mental health storylines and aim for authenticity over tropes.
Portray a range of experiences. Expand depictions of mental health to reflect the full continuum of experiences — from thriving to coping to struggling.
Diversify representation. Tell stories of diverse communities to help action-takers from all backgrounds feel seen and take action.
Spotlight effective support from friends and family members. Elevate stories of friends and family who are supportive — or eventually become supportive — to make taking action less scary.
Depict effective, realistic action-taking. Show realistic portrayals of effective therapeutic treatments to help lessen fear and misconceptions and make viewers more likely to seek help.
Highlight the power of coping skills and self-care. Minimize depictions of self-care that make it seem like an indulgence or luxury only for those who can afford it.
Represent the complex causes of mental health challenges. Portray the range of factors that contribute to mental health challenges to better equip viewers to support themselves and the people they care about.
Artist credits: Icons CC BY-SA | talent by MRFA / government by Made x Made / university by iconcheese / employer by Jasfart / collaborate by Yanick Brezet / PDF by Alfredo / newspaper by Becris / bullet list by Rflor from the Noun Project