May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

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Every year, many organizations and governments recognize Mental Health Awareness Month as a way to draw attention to the importance of maintaining good mental health and to encourage people to engage in dialogue with others about their mental well-being.

Continue reading to learn about how mental health issues are impacting the United States and how many at-risk individuals lack health insurance with mental health coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Mental Health Week was created in 1949 and later morphed into a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues.
  • While 21% of adults in the United States have a mental illness, less than 10% of Americans have received treatment for a mental illness.
  • President Biden declared May to be National Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023, while government officials in the District of Columbia and 40 states have similarly recognized Mental Health Month in an official capacity.
  • Marketplace health insurance plans are required to cover therapy and other mental health services, although you may need an official diagnosis and a referral from your doctor to qualify for coverage.

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Also known simply as Mental Health Month, Mental Health Awareness Month occurs each May as a way for organizations to highlight the prevalence of mental illness in the United States and to encourage people to seek professional help if they need it.

In addition, many organizations use this month as an opportunity to promote various strategies for managing your mental health on your own so you can hopefully prevent psychological issues from becoming so severe that you need to seek professional help.

Why Is Mental Health Awareness Important?

Mental health awareness is important because of how common mental health issues are and how uncommon it is for people to get their mental illnesses treated. A 2022 study found that about 21% of adults in the United States experience some kind of mental illness and nearly 5% have seriously contemplated committing suicide.[1]

Despite this, only 45% of individuals with mental health problems reported receiving any sort of treatment. In addition, the study found that 11% of adults with a mental illness do not have health insurance, which contributes to many people going without mental health care simply because they can’t afford it.[1]

Which States Have Mental Health Month Proclamations?

The vast majority of states have issued proclamations officially acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month. President Joe Biden released a statement recognizing May as National Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023, while government officials in the District of Columbia and the following states have made similar proclamations:[2][3]




South Carolina



New Hampshire

South Dakota



New Jersey




New York




North Carolina




North Dakota













West Virginia



Rhode Island


states with Mental Health Month Proclamations

Mental Health Awareness Month History

Mental Health Awareness Month started out as Mental Health Week in 1949 as a collaboration between Mental Health America and the United States Junior Chamber, also known as the Jaycees. It eventually became a full month dedicated to educating Americans about mental illness and mental wellness more broadly.[4]

Now, numerous additional organizations take the opportunity to promote mental health awareness throughout the month of May including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

How To Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

The best and most straightforward way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is to promote mental health awareness yourself. This could involve posting about mental health statistics on social media or discussing the importance of maintaining good mental health with your friends and loved ones.

You could also consider contacting your elected officials to let them know what steps you believe they should be taking to address mental health concerns in your area. Alternatively, you could look for fundraisers and other events near you that are dedicated to promoting the importance of taking care of your mental health.

Finally, you should take steps to make sure your own psychological condition is good. This may mean evaluating your current lifestyle to determine if it’s beneficial for you, readjusting your priorities and behaviors in a way that will alleviate stress and improve your mood and potentially seeking out therapy if necessary.

Tips To Maintain Positive Mental Health

Consider practicing behaviors like these to improve both your mental and physical health by reducing stress, minimizing your chances of becoming sick and raising your energy:[5]

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes on a regular basis
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and avoid looking at screens before going to bed
  • Make time for relaxing activities like listening to music, reading or meditating
  • Set realistic goals and avoid overscheduling
  • Think about the things in your life you are thankful for
  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Reach out to the people you are closest to when you need emotional support
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When is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month is observed in May.

What mental health services does insurance cover?

Marketplace health plans are required to cover psychotherapy and counseling, inpatient services related to mental and behavioral health and substance abuse disorder treatment.[6]

Does health insurance cover therapy?

Health insurance generally covers therapy, although you may not be eligible for coverage unless you have been diagnosed with a specific mental illness and your primary care physician (PCP) has deemed the counseling to be medically necessary.


  1. Mental Health America. “2023 State of Mental Health in America Report,” Page 8. Accessed April 10, 2024.
  2. The White House. “A Proclamation on National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2023.” Accessed April 10, 2024.
  3. National Council for Mental Wellbeing. “Mental Health Awareness Month.” Accessed April 10, 2024.
  4. Mental Health America. “Our History.” Accessed April 10, 2024.
  5. National Institute of Mental Health. “Caring for Your Mental Health.” Accessed April 10, 2024.
  6. “Mental Health and Substance Abuse Health Coverage Options.” Accessed April 10, 2024.

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