For more than 10 years, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is when we celebrate Giving Tuesday. This day has become a time when people give back to charities and nonprofits around the country to support the organizations in their quest to help those in need.

As behavioral health professionals, we can get into the “holiday spirit” by giving back in a mentally healthy way — not necessarily by giving monetarily, but by taking action in supporting mental health-wellness for ourselves and others. Here are several ways you and your clients can participate in Giving Tuesday while keeping mental health in mind:

  1. Share your knowledge: As we know, mental health is often surrounded by misinformation and misconceptions. Understanding the realities of mental illness is a powerful way for others to truly begin to understand what others are going through. As behavioral health professionals, we have the knowledge and resources to share with others to help destigmatize mental health and find the best ways to support people living with mental illness.
  2. Remember that language matters: While it can feel awkward at times, you can help destigmatize mental health by countering harmful opinions and language you encounter with accurate knowledge. Leaders in mental health research have found that using appropriate language to describe mental illness and addiction can help to reduce stigma and improve how people with these conditions are treated in health care settings and throughout society. Taking a stand for others by having tough conversations with a judging relative or neighbor is a great way to support the mental health movement.
  3. Reach out: Dealing with mental illness every single day can be very isolating, which is why hearing from friends and loved ones can truly be impactful. Take time to check in with those who may be struggling this holiday season. And remember, if you are having a hard time, reach out to your support people — these actions of connection can make all the difference.
  4. Get trained in Mental Health First Aid: Mental Health First Aid, a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues, has trained more than 3 million people across the country to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. This is a great way to get educated, help destigmatize mental illness, and know how to help others all at the same time.
Incorporating joy and giving back to others is a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit, and it’s possible to do this in a way that also supports your role as a behavioral health professional and your clients as well. How will you give back this season?

Giving Tuesday: Ways to Participate with Mental Health in Mind