Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to raise awareness around mental health challenges and prioritize your employees’ and your mental health. Mental health is always important, but with the lingering effects of the pandemic and a push to “return to normal,” it is at the top of the priority list. In addition to higher wages and increased flexibility, employees are also looking to their employers for assistance with mental health. They want more than the obligatory employee assistance programs (EAP). Employees want to know that they matter, that employers care about their overall well-being and not just about productivity and the bottom line. 

Most of us know that mental health conditions are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. That means employers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable accommodations for workers who divulge their assistance needs. This article suggests that employers can do things beyond what is mandated to create a culture that supports employees’ mental health. 

Most people will experience a mental health challenge at some point. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, the strain could impact their mental health. For example, working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship can contribute to poor mental health. Learning to cope with stress and situations that may lead to mental health concerns in a healthy way will help you become more resilient. Self-care is at the top of the list. Individuals can do things to make self-care a priority that could mitigate the adverse effects of life’s challenges.       

Below are some activities to help prioritize self-care this month. However, it is okay to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. Mental health counselors are trained to help people navigate the emotional issues or situations that make life seem difficult and unmanageable. 

Activities to Improve Self-Care

  • Look for opportunities to express gratitude
  • Relax by trying to be in the moment instead of distracting yourself
  • Seek help from your support system
  • Take time to do something you enjoy
  • Take breaks throughout your workday
  • Try activities that encourage deep breathing (like breathing exercises, yoga, physical activity, etc.)
  • Try activities to help you stay grounded (like regular meditation, which can reduce long-term stress and boost the immune system)
  • Engage in consistent exercise, which can improve your mood and help your body let go of stress
  • Reach out to a friend
  • Listen to your favorite (upbeat) song or playlist
  • Dance to songs that make you feel good
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Take a walk outside
  • Write your feelings down 
  • Consider talking with a counselor who can help with strategies to manage stress effectively. 

Note: If you plan to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., next month, consider attending these practical sessions. They are being held in the ALA JobLIST Placement & Career Development Center in the Renaissance Hotel – Rock Creek Ballroom. Visit the Placement & Career Development page for additional activities.

  • Stress Management for Real Life, Saturday, June 25, 2:30-3:30 pm 
  • Self-Care During Stressful Times, Sunday, June 26, 2:30-3:30 pm


  • The American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) Center for Workplace Mental Health developed a toolkit that offers tips and resources for supporting mental health and well-being at work for May and beyond. Topics include resiliency, self-care, isolation and loneliness, real strategies to show your support, and more.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the United States. 
  • The Mental Health.Gov site explains the basics of mental health, lists several early warning signs of possible mental health concerns, and offers suggestions to maintain positive mental health. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page on mental health offers many resources to help with understanding mental health, tips for coping with stress, and ways to get help. 
  • Suicide Prevention LifeLine: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)