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By Jason Jowers, MS, MFT

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and National Military Appreciation Month. During this month of commemoration, celebration, and reflection, it is important to keep in mind the daily sacrifices that military service members and their families make and experience. It is also important to celebrate and take care of mental health every single day, especially for those of us that support military families. By supporting military family mental health initiatives and practicing self-care techniques as professionals working with military families, we can better support the communities we serve.

Activities and Ideas to Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and National Military Appreciation Month

 Important dates in May pertaining to National Military Appreciation Month include:

  • Military Spouse Appreciation Day: May 12, 2023 (The Friday Before Mother’s Day) where we honor military spouses.
  • Armed Forces Day: May 20, 2023 (The Third Saturday in May) where we celebrate all of those serving in our military.
  • Memorial Day: May 29, 2023 (The Last Monday in May) where we honor and mourn the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Many activities take place during this month, and we wanted to share some ideas and resources that support and show gratitude to our military service members and their families as well as ways to prioritize the idea that mental health matters for our clients and ourselves.

  • Self-care is a big buzzword these days, but practicing self-care techniques is of the utmost importance for military service members, their families, and professionals working with military families. Ways to practice self-care can include regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, maintaining or building social connections, finding meaningful hobbies, and spending time outdoors.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a “Veterans and Active Duty” page that shares associated mental health concerns for military service members. This includes considerations for ways the military has encouraged better mental health in recent years as well as how to help a fellow friend or colleague who may be struggling with mental health issues. Find ways to get and give support by reaching out to the completely confidential counselors at Military One Source (1-800-342-9647).
  • A great way to spread awareness about mental health is by engaging in community or online events. Mental Health Action Day is on May 18th and is a national initiative where organizations come together to support mental health and actively encourage people to get the help they need. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and to give back to yourself!

These are just a few suggestions on ways to support ourselves and the military families we serve. Stay tuned for more upcoming OneOp programming focused on supporting mental health for military families.