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10 Ways to Celebrate World Mental Health Day 2023

It’s World Mental Health Day! Each year, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) joins the World Health Organization to raise awareness about mental health around the world and support those experiencing mental health and substance use challenges.

In honor of the observance, we are sharing 10 achievable ways you can take action to protect and promote mental wellbeing today and every day.

1. Use Person-first Language.

Words matter! Put the person before the diagnosis or difference with non-stigmatizing, person-first language. People are more than the sum of their traits. It’s also important to always be mindful of others’ preferences and to be open to adjusting terms as necessary. Use this chart to begin incorporating more inclusive, person-first language into your discussions about mental wellbeing.

person-first language chart

To learn more, read our Use Person-First Language to Reduce Stigma blog.

2. Add These Numbers to Your Contacts

No one is immune to mental health challenges, and MHFA wants you to be prepared when you or someone around you needs help. Add the following important resources to your contact list. They could make an impactful difference in your own life or the life of someone you know.

  • Call 911 in an emergency, if you feel unable to keep yourself safe or if someone appears at risk of self-harm.
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 988 is the easy-to-remember, three-digit dialing code connecting people to the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Receive free and confidential support from trained crisis counselors 24/7 nationwide. There are three ways to access care: Call or text 988, or chat at
  • The SAMHSA Helpline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline is a free, confidential information service that provides treatment and support referrals 24/7 to people facing mental health and substance use challenges. Call 800-662-HELP (4357).
  • The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides free, confidential support 24/7 to LGBTQ+ youth via a helpline, text and online instant messaging system. Call 866-488-7386 or text 678678.
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Call 800-656-4673 (HOPE) for confidential support services for survivors, regardless of where they are in their

You can also visit our Mental Health Resources webpage for additional resources and save this graphic on your device for a quick reference guide and share it on your social media channels!

3. Take a Mental Health Day.

Did you know that more than half of workers do not use all their paid leave even though it can increase life satisfaction, improve mental wellbeing, reduce heart disease risks and reduce anxiety and depression?

Feeling some level of stress related to work, school or just life in general is understandable, but if it begins to affect your everyday mood, your personal relationships or your mental health, and you’re feeling exhausted, it could be time to take some time away, whether it’s for a few hours or a few days. We know that asking for time off from a job can be intimidating, so here’s a guide from MHFA on how to ask your boss for a mental health day.

4. Find a MHFA Instructor in Your Community.

MHFA Instructors are on the frontlines of the program, and are helping make mental wellbeing, including recovery from substance use, a reality for everyone, everywhere. Connect with a MHFA Instructor near you and learn how you can bring MHFA training to your community.

To find an Instructor near you, visit the Find-a-Course tool, enter your city/state and select “Find Course.” Then scroll down to see a list of courses. Filter to see only Instructors by using the course/Instructor toggle buttons on the left-hand side of your screen.

If you have a passion for mental wellbeing and want to make even more of a difference within your community, consider training to become a certified Instructor. Check out this blog post to learn more.

5. Talk About Mental Wellbeing.

These last few years have been challenging (to put it mildly) and have brought on an unprecedented mental health crisis. Every year, one out of five adults experience a mental illness, and one out of six youth experience a mental health challenge.

Want to help? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), simply talking to someone sympathetic in your life about your mental health challenges can help reduce your stress and improve your mood.

While it might seem difficult or awkward, it doesn’t have to be. Just a few words — like asking someone how they’re feeling — can make a big difference. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this blog for 5 tips to start a conversation about mental health.

6. Practice Self-care When You Feel Overwhelmed.

Whether it’s because of work, school, social obligations or just life in general, we all feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed at some point. Try some of these self-care tips when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Step away and take a deep breath. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a quick way to begin to alleviate those feelings is by doing breathing exercises. If the thing that’s overwhelming you is in front of you, try stepping away from it to create some separation.
  2. Create a “no” list. Say no to activities that you do not want to do or don’t have bandwidth to do. Protecting your time and space can help give you a sense of control over your schedule.
  3. Be kind to yourself. Remember that it’s OK to feel overwhelmed. It also helps to remember that the overwhelming feelings don’t have to last.
  4. Ask for help from a loved one. Your social support network is there for you to lean on if you need to vent or talk things through. Reach out to a friend for a virtual chat or pick up the phone and call a family member.
  5. Write it out. Writing down why you feel overwhelmed or anxious is another great way to help alleviate those feelings. It helps to do this unstructured — having a written stream of consciousness allows you to express yourself freely and getting those thoughts out of your head will be a relief.

If you need more inspiration about what to include in a self-care plan, check out this blog post.

7. Save the Date for the 2024 MHFA Summit!

As a Mental Health First Aider, you are helping destigmatize mental health and substance use challenges to make wellbeing — including recovery from substance use — a reality for everyone. Take the next step and become an Instructor, with plenty of time to join the 2024 Mental Health First Aid Summit on April 14, 2024!

At the Summit, MHFA Instructors and Coordinators can expect to:

  • Explore our industry-leading curriculum designed to help you strengthen your skill sets.
  • Experience panels on everything from cultural awareness to funding your MHFA initiative.
  • Hear inspiring stories from likeminded peers and public figures in our space.
  • Uncover strategies for reaching new audiences in your community.

If you are not a MHFA Instructor yet, but are interested in learning more, read up on the benefits of becoming an Instructor. Registration for the 2024 MHFA Summit is opening soon!

8. Ward off the Sunday Scaries.

Do you ever get the “Sunday Scaries” before heading back into the workweek? Weekends are supposed to be a time to recharge and unplug from work, but for many, Sunday brings feelings of anxiety and dread. Even a few hours lost to worrying about work can drain your mind and body.

If the Sunday Scaries are robbing you of joy and rest, consider these strategies to get your weekend back:

  • Work on a project.
  • Indulge in some “me time.”
  • Make a to-do list.
  • Make Monday more attractive.
  • Talk it out with a trusted friend or loved one.
  • Convince your boss to bring MHFA at Work to your workplace.

Read more in our How to Ward Off the Sunday Scaries blog.

9. Advocate for Mental Wellbeing.

With one in five adults experiencing a mental health challenge each year, we must all advocate for policies that help increase access to mental health care and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and substance use challenges.

Here are a few ways you can speak up for mental wellbeing:

  • Sign up for advocacy alerts and urge your elected officials to make meaningful policy changes.
  • Share mental health resources with your network via social media.
  • Subscribe to the Capitol Connector newsletter to stay in the know on the latest policy news.
  • Write your legislator to ensure your voice is heard when it comes to important issues impacting your community.
  • Encourage your friends, family and community members to get trained in Mental Health First Aid.
  • Apply to become a National Council Ambassador to highlight the local impact of federal policies.
  • Register for Hill Day at Home 2023.

10. Celebrate World Mental Health Day!

We can all celebrate World Mental Health Day by committing to making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority. Let’s continue to take action toward improving the mental wellbeing of our communities, starting with ourselves. To celebrate today, consider:

  • Doing a random act of kindness, which has proven emotional benefits and can help strengthen social ties and one’s sense of community.
  • Making a coffee or tea date with a friend or loved one to connect and enjoy quality time together.
  • Taking a moment to practice gratitude, which can improve mental health and boost relationships with others.

Seeking more inspiration for ways to celebrate? Read our 25 Small, Powerful Ways to Take Action for Mental Health blog. And tag @MentalHealthFirstAidUSA when posting on Facebook and Instagram, and @MHFirstAidUSA when posting on Twitter.

If you enjoyed learning about mental wellbeing this October and want to get more involved, be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and the MHFA Digest to get the latest MHFA blogs, news and updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Thank you for choosing to #BeTheDifference on this World Mental Health Day — and every day!

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