Since 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Each year the American Psychological Association (APA) coordinates a range of efforts to raise awareness about mental health.

APA graphic

This year, APA wanted to help Americans understand their rights to insurance coverage for mental health services by launching a Mental Health Parity Awareness Initiative. With the increased news coverage on mental health, APA decided to find out how many Americans know about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires mental and behavioral health coverage to be equal to or better than coverage for physical health.

APA released survey findings on May 20 showing that only four percent of Americans said they were aware of the law. The survey findings provided a compelling news hook and an opportunity for APA to also release free resources, including a consumer guide and an informative video to educate the public about the mental health parity law. The materials were promoted through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google AdWords. And, APA engaged News Generation to conduct a radio media tour the day after the survey release. News Generation secured 17 radio interviews which garnered 945 airings and more than six million listeners.

Another activity for Mental Health Awareness month included APA’s fifth annual Mental Health Blog Day, held on May 14. Bloggers from various communities including fitness, food, parenting and chronic disease provided different perspectives on why mental health is important. Throughout the day APA updated a round up page with all the blogs participating in the event.

A webinar was co-hosted with the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) as part of a new partnership between APA and PTA to provide families with resources and tips on emotional and behavioral health issues. The webinar focused on “How to Tell If Your Kid Is Struggling Emotionally” and included a tip sheet, “Talking With Kids When They Need Help.” More than 200 PTA members participated in the event, held on May 4.

Other activities included a Twitter #EquityChat on health disparities affecting boys and men in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Finding Answers initiative. Wizdom Powell, PhD, an APA member and expert on African-American men’s mental health, led the discussion. And, APA partnered with the Child Mind Institute on a social media photo initiative for a “Speak Up for Kids” campaign. APA staff and followers on Twitter and Facebook posted pictures of themselves holding a sign saying, “I speak up because…” adding their personal reason on why they care about children’s mental health, including the hashtag #ISpeakUp.

Written by the public relations team at the American Psychological Association Practice Directorate