Mental Health Awareness Month

May has been Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States since 1949. This year’s annual MHA campaign is focused on how surroundings impact mental health, and they are calling for individuals to look around, look within.

Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas has events planned throughout May, kicking off with the Five Fifty Fifty Run/ Walk for Mental Health 5K on April 29, a run/walk that will occur in each of the 50 U.S. states over 50 consecutive days.

I’m not a runner but I am keenly aware of how the outdoors can affect our mindset. When I transferred from the University of Texas to Evergreen in Washington state, I learned about the power of UV lamps for mental health. I scoffed at first but it was pretty clear that my moods were strongly aligned with the amount of sunshine that I was exposed to. In Wichita, we’re lucky to average more than 200 days of sunshine per year but even that is not enough to keep everyone in a sunny state of mind. Cycles of poverty, addiction and abuse are difficult to surmount as is made clear by the increase of the unhoused population in our community. Mental health is an issue that impacts us all.

Sharing personal stories and resources can destigmatize mental illness and encourage self-care. I’m planning to sign up for MHASCK’s 7 day challenge to Embrace Hope and invite you to join me and consider ways we can help others look around and look within.

 – Naomi Shapiro, 2023 WPC President

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