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National Mental Health Counseling Week, May 2-6
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National Mental Health Counseling Week, May 2-6

‘Mental Health ... It's Part of Your World!’

That’s the theme of National Mental Health Counseling Week, celebrated this year May 2–6. This national, annual event helps increase mental health awareness and recognition for AMHCA, its state chapters, and the mental health counseling profession as a whole. Other special days in May include May 5—Mental Health Awareness Day, and May 6—March for Mental Health.

AMHCA members across the United States will be working to raise awareness by focusing on mental health at home, in the community, in the military, in school, and in the workplace. To facilitate meaningful participation in National Mental Health Counseling Week, AMHCA has created a project manual that focuses on these different aspects of mental health and sent the manual to its chapter leaders across the country. 

The manual suggests activities for promoting mental health in each of these venues. You may contact your chapter for a copy of the manual, or download it as a PDF document.

This year’s manual opens with a letter to AMHCA chapter presidents followed by a definition of mental health,noting that “since its inception, the World Health Organization has included mental well-being in the definition of health. In 2001, WHO defined health as, “... a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” 

AMHCA infers three central ideas related to health from this definition, according to the manual:

  • Mental health is an integral part of health
  • Mental health is more than the absence of illness, and
  • Mental health is intimately connected with physical health and behavior.

“Neither mental nor physical health can exist alone. Mental, physical, and social functioning are interdependent. Furthermore, health and illness may co-exist,” the manual goes on to say. “Recognizing health as a state of balance including the self, others, and the environment helps communities and individuals understand how to seek its improvement.”

AMHCA encourages all of its members to set time aside during National Mental Health Counseling Week to participate in activities to promote and reinforce the importance of mental health. Chapter activities may include:

  • Outreach to parents’ groups;
  • Connection with service-member support organizations such as The Military Family Network™, Military OneSource;
  • Education for employers and employees about workplace mental health issues;
  • Collaboration with school personnel to support student wellness;
  • State and local proclamations recognizing May 2-6, 2011, as National Mental Health Counseling Week; and
  • Collecting signatures supporting a Mental Health Awareness postage stamp (click here to sign the petition, or click here to download a petition in support of the stamp)

AMHCA’s Public Awareness Committee produces the manual each year. Chaired by Joan Normandy–Dolberg, LPC, NCC; the committee includes members Julie Day, Xiomara A. Sosa, Dave Renouf, and Sharon Cyrus-Savary.

You may also be interested in observing May 3, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The theme for Awareness Day 2011 is building resilience for young children dealing with trauma. 

The national event will take place at the Shakespeare Theatre-Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and consist of an art exhibit that will feature contributions from youth who have used art as a resilience tool to deal with trauma. A portion of the program will be a tribute to youth who have experienced trauma, and the family, friends, and providers who have supported them on their journey to resilience. 

Click here for more information about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.