Mental Health Awareness

IF YOU NEED HELP: Call, text or chat 9-8-8 to speak with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Since 1949, Mental Health America (MHA) and countless organizations globally, have observed Mental Health Awareness during the month of May.

This year’s theme, “Look Around, Look Within” challenges each and every one of us to examine our environments and how they can affect our overall health.

As humans, the places we live, work, play, and congregate all have a powerful influence on our well-being. It’s important to consider how our environments can affect our mental health.

HIPRC encourages everyone to take some time to look around and to look within — from our communities to our genetics, there are many factors that come into play when managing our mental health.

Take a moment to reflect on your connections:

A safe, stable, and healthy home environment sets the foundation for achieving and maintaining good mental health.

A strong sense of community within neighborhoods protects mental health through shared support, resources, and joy. Challenges like gentrification, community violence, and lack of access to resources can negatively impact mental health. While many of these can be out of your control, being an advocate for change and making healthy community connections can bring hope.

Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes, including improved focus, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of developing mental health conditions, and a sense of connection to yourself, community, and purpose.

If you or someone you know needs help:

Download & Share this 2023 Mental Health Month Toolkit — filled with helpful media and social media resources, printable informational handouts, posters, DIY tools and more! Includes information about how an individual’s environment impacts their mental health, suggestions for making changes to improve and maintain mental well-being, and ways to seek help for mental health challenges.

Courtesy: Mental Health America (MHA)

Take a FREE Mental Health Test Online — this quick and easy screening will help to determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. After you complete your online screening, you will receive information, resources, and tools to help you better understand and improve your mental health.

Courtesy: Mental Health America (MHA)

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Why is mental health important for overall health?

Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetesheart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.

Can your mental health change over time?

Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.

What is mental illness?

There are more than 200 types of Mental Illness, a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. People can experience different types of mental illnesses or disorders, and they can often occur at the same time. Mental illnesses can also occur over a short period of time or be episodic. This means that the mental illness comes and goes with discrete beginnings and ends.

How common are mental illnesses?

Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the U.S.:

  • More than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness.
  • Over 1 in 5 youth (ages 13-18) either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
  • About 1 in 25 U.S. adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

Mental health vs. mental illness

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience a poor mental health condition and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.

What causes mental illness?

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse (for example, child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, etc.)
  • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
  • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Mental Health in WA

It is vitally important that communities across Washington state (and beyond) work together to support a strong mental health system that is equipped to provide care, support, and services to those in need.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

World Mental Health Day

Share these ideas with family and friends to celebrate #WorldMentalHealthDay:

✔️ Do a mental health check-in — ask yourself how you’re really feeling

✔️ Start a conversation about mental health with a friend or loved one

✔️ Choose a favorite mental health resource to post on your social media channels\

✔️ Devote an hour to your favorite self-care activity

Source: The Mental Health Coalition

How common is mental illness?

Mental illness is among the most common health conditions in the United States.

  • More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year
  • 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


  • 11.7% – Percentage of Adults (age 18 & older) with regular feelings of worry, nervousness, or anxiety
  • 4.8% – Percentage of Adults (age 18 & older) with regular feelings of depression

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the 2021 National Health Interview Survey

Physician Office Visits

  • 57.2 million – Number of visits to physician offices with mental disorders as the primary diagnosis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2019 National Summary Tables (Table 13)

Emergency Department Visits

  • 6.2 million – Number of visits to emergency departments with mental disorders, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental as the primary diagnosis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2020 National Summary Tables, (Table 10)


  • 48,183 – Number of suicide deaths
  • 14.5 – Suicide deaths per 100,000 population

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC WONDER)

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, CALL, TEXT, or CHAT ‘988’.

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support to anyone in need.

The former Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis — the Lifeline’s network of over 200 crisis centers nationwide has been in operation since 2005, and has been proven to be effective.

The Lifeline’s trained counselors are available 24/7 to answer your calls, texts or chats. They will listen, try to understand your problems, provide you with support, and connect you with additional resources. Numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor.

When someone you love is in crisis and needs support, it can be hard to know what to do.

Follow these five easy steps:

Step #1: ASK
Are you thinking about suicide? How do you hurt? How can I help?

Step #2: BE THERE

In person or on the phone. Show support. Listen. Keep promises to connect.


If the person in crisis is suicidal, details matter: Do they have a plan, or ideas about timing or method? You can call 988 to support their crisis care.


When someone is in crisis, connecting them with ongoing supports can help establish a safety net. Remind them they can call, text or chat 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor 24/7.Here are five steps you can take that are known to help:

Step #5: FOLLOW UP

After the immediate crisis is over, check in. That text or call afterwards makes a real difference.

Source: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Make a commitment to check-in with family, friends & colleagues.

When we make a point to check-in with OTHERS, it creates an opportunity for those in need to ASK FOR HELP.

Put these helpful tips into action:

Set aside time to talk // It is recommended to try for 15 minutes or longer. Get rid of distractions. This time is just about checking-in. Avoid phones, tablets, or television.

Ask open-ended questions // Start a discussion by asking “What went well today?” and “What could have gone better?” Try to make these conversations part of your daily routine, either at dinnertime or just before kids go to bed.

Listen & validate // Let them express their ideas fully before you respond. If your child expresses feelings of sadness or worry, resist the urge to “fix” the problem immediately. Instead, let them know that it’s okay – and even understandable – to feel this way right now.

Come up with solutions together // Help them come up with ideas for how to make the next day better or identify someone who can help, like a therapist, doctor, or pastor. Help kids focus on what they can control, which can help them better handle stress and anxiety by helping them identify aspects of life they have influence over, while acknowledging there are a lot of things they don’t have control of now.

Schedule time for your next check-in // Be sure to create a routine for check-ins, whether it’s daily or weekly.

Provide reassurance // Remind them to be patient with themselves – the first step towards getting better is to ask for help.

Source: UW Medicine, Interview with Dr. William P. French, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist.

How to Make Yourself Feel Better Mentally

When we check-in with OURSELVES, it creates an opportunity TO FEEL BETTER MENTALLY.

Put these helpful tips into action:

  • Take a Break

  • Go for a Walk

  • Crank Up the Music

  • Do Something Nice for Someone Else

  • Talk to a Friend

  • Plan Something (that YOU ENJOY!)

Source: Very Well Mind


This series of guides and webinar can help professionals, families, and communities support the mental well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQIA2S+) youth. 

Source: Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

During difficult times, share these three important ways that transgender and non-binary individuals can support their own mental health:

  • Limit social media/technology usage – Limiting my usage has helped me significantly. Being faced with the news or consistent posts about this day can sometimes increase some of those negative experiences and feelings. Taking a break for the day on social media or technology may help to give you more opportunities to live in the moment and experience more positive feelings. 
  • Increase self-care – Treat yourself with compassion and support today, and maybe take that extra shower or bath, wear your favorite clothes, journal, take a needed nap, or watch a favorite affirming TV show. Whatever you enjoy, you deserve to amplify that today. 
  • Connect with affirming people – There are many ways to connect with others in the Transgender or non-binary community, even if you are not out yet. If you have allied and affirming friends or a family member, maybe send them a text or give them a call. Finding ways to be around others who are willing to support you is a great way to reduce feelings or urges of isolation and alone.

Source:  Active Minds

Crisis Text Line
Support at your fingertips – text with a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line for FREE, 24/7.
For English – Text TALK to 741741
For Spanish – Text AYUDA to 741741

Changing the way we talk–and what we do–about suicide in Washington, particularly on campuses and in K-12 schools.

How to Deal with Suicide: A Guide from Crisis Text Line
You matter and your life is worth fighting for. If you are in distress or experiencing suicidal thoughts, know that you are not alone. Please talk to someone and seek help. Reaching out is the first step to safety.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Helping children understand trauma.

SAGE National LGBTQ+ Elder Hotline
Advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ Elders.
CALL: 1 (877) 360-LGBT (5428)

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available.
CALL or TEXT: 988
For Veterans – PRESS 1
For Spanish – PRESS 2

Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth.

Suicide Prevention: A Guide for Military & Veteran Families
This guide will help you recognize when someone is at risk for suicide and understand the actions you can take to help.

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Each year, our nation recognizes September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The LGBT Help Center
Peer-support and local resources for all ages.
National Hotline: 1 (888) 843-4564

The Trevor Project
Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
TrevorLifeline: Available 24/7 at 1 (866) 488-7386
TrevorText: Text TREVOR to 1 (202) 304-1200
TrevorChat: Via

The Jed Foundation
Suicide prevention resources for college and university campuses, including campus faculty and staff, students and parents.

Trans Lifeline
Support for transgender people, by transgender people.
CALL: 1 (877) 565-8860

Where to Start
Using a jargon-free approach, this hard-cover book provides information on understanding warning signs, symptoms, and options for individuals and their mental health journey. 100% of sales support mental health awareness efforts. Purchase online at Mental Health America.

Each year, millions of people in the U.S. struggle with a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, addiction, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and other real, common and treatable conditions.

Recovery is possible. Take the first step towards managing your mental health with this FREE online test >>

Courtesy: Mental Health America (MHA)

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
CALL, TEXT or CHAT: 9-8-8

Anonymous & Free Crisis Counseling
TEXT: ‘signs’ to 741741

Choose 180

Comprehensive Healthcare
CALL: 800-572-8122

Crisis Text Line
TEXT: CONVO to 741741
(FREE, confidential, 24/7, support)

Find the right words for any scenario

How to Talk About Mental Health

Live Another Day
CALL: 1-866-934-6616 (Talk to a treatment advisor 24/7)
(Addiction & Mental Health Resources for All)

Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Library
VISIT: (Find mental health resources most relevant to you)

Mental Health Resources for Black People

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline for New or Expecting Mothers

National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Child, Youth, and Family Mental Health (NTTAC) 
CALL: (888)-945-9377

Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center
Anxiety, Trauma, OCD, Mood Disorder Support Groups
CALL: 1-866-331-6270
Pathlight offers free, trained facilitator-led, support groups for those struggling with anxiety, trauma, OCD and mood disorders. Pathlight also offers some support groups for families and community members. These support groups provide support, resources and education on treatment and recovery.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline
CALL: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
VISIT: is now available in Spanish! Visit to find support on your journey to seek help for mental health or substance use conditions.

Teenline – A Program of Didi Hirsche Mental Health Services
CALL: 1-800-852-8336
TEXT: ‘TEEN’ to 839863 (7-days week, 6:00p – 9:00p PT)

Trans Lifeline
CALL: 1-877-565-8860

Veterans Crisis Line
CALL: 9-8-8, then Press 1
TEXT: 838255
CHAT: online now

Wanna Talk About It?

We Can Talk About It

2-1-1 Washington

Behavioral Health Considerations for Endemic COVID-19 (PDF)

Catholic Charities
CALL: 1-800-246-2962 (Serving Central WA)

Detox & Drug Rehab Centers in Washington
CALL: 1-866-934-6616 (Talk to a treatment advisor 24/7)

Help for behavioral health & recovery clients

King County Community Mental Health Resources (PDF)

King County Crisis & Commitment Services
CALL: 206-263-9200

Mental Health Resources for Black, Indigenous & People of Color (BIPOC)

Resources & support for parents, families & teachers
CALL: 360-725-6000

UW Husky Health & Well-Being (for Seattle Students)

UW Medicine Peer to Peer Program (support for faculty, staff, and trainees)
REQUEST HELP: Use this form to request Peer to Peer Support

Washington Behavioral Health Resources
CALL: 253-251-2952

Washington Listens: No Insurance, No Fees, Just Support

Yakama Nation Behavioral Health Services
CALL: 509-865-2266

American Psychiatric Association (Find a Psychiatrist)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder)

American Psychological Association (psychologist locator)

SAMSHA’s Confidential & Anonymous Resource (Find treatment for Mental & Substance Use Disorders)

A Proclamation on National Mental Health Awareness Month, 2023

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, proclaimed May 2023 as National Mental Health Awareness Month.

What is Global Mental Health?

Watch this video entitled ‘New Mindsetdirected by Danny Capozzi for United for Global Mental Health.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides information on mental health.

National Institute of Mental Health

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is one of 27 components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal government’s principal biomedical and behavioral research agency. NIMH’s mission is to reduce the burden of mental illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior.

World Health Organization’s Mental Health Action Plan

Provides information on mental health and substance use.


FREE Virtual Youth Mental Health First Aid Class – (Click to view)

NEW National Guidelines for Improving Youth Mental Health Crisis Care – (Click to view)



May is Mental Health Awareness Month – (PNG) | (JPG)

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness – (PNG) | (JPG)

Look Around, Look Within – (PNG) | (JPG)

Be a Lifeline – (PNG) | (JPG)

Your Mental Health is the Priority – (PNG) | (JPG)



How to… Talk to Your Child After a Tragedy Occurs
English – (PDF) | (JPG)

English – (PDF) | (JPG)

Cómo… Hablar con su Hijo Después de una Tragedia
Spanish / Español – (PDF) | (JPG)

Spanish / Español – (PDF) | (JPG)



May is Mental Health Awareness Month – (PDF)

This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. No physician-patient relationship is created by this website or its use. Neither HIPRC, the University of Washington, nor its employees, nor any contributor to this website, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.