National Mental Health Awareness Month 2024

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2024

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a national observance that started all the way back in 1949 by Mental Health America to bring attention to the crucial nature of mental wellbeing. Across the United States, people and organizations raise awareness about the importance of mental health as well as mental health challenges that people face.

About Mental Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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” (2024). 

Mental health can be compromised by biological, genetic, or environmental factors – or a combination of all three. For example, if someone is genetically predisposed to have schizophrenia (it runs in their family), smoking marijuana can prompt or exacerbate psychosis symptoms. Chronic pain, chronic stress from work or world events, relationship ruptures, and drastic change are merely some of the factors that can impact mental health.

Mental health is as important as physical health, especially considering how closely tied they are. For example, “depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness” (CDC, 2024). 

Facts About Mental Illness

Mental illness plagues a noteworthy amount of Americans, further emphasizing the importance of attending to and caring for our mental wellbeing. According to the CDC:

  • More than 1 in 5 US 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.

Ways to Improve Mental Health:

In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, take some time to practice any or all of the following mental health tips – not only in the month of May, but every month of the year:


Connecting with our support system can enhance our mental health and well-being. Connecting with friends, family, and those in the community foster meaningful human connection and can make us feel good; research indicates that having perceived stronger and meaningful connections with others can help improve our mental health (Korb, 2015).


Exercise is recommended for improving our physical health but has also been researched and observed to have positive benefits on mental health. Exercise increases endorphins in our bodies, which help us effectively cope with stress and pain. Further, when we exercise, studies show that this can in turn positively impact our sleep cycles, enhancing our quality of sleep (Korb, 2015). 

Creative Expression

Creative expression (ex: sculpture, painting, drawing, music dance, storytelling, theater) create conditions that encourage the expression of big emotions. Emotional expression has been researched to improve mental health. Visual, literary, and performing arts permit us to move through big emotions in a beautiful way. For example, if you are coping with a loss, you might write a melancholy song to help you process your grief. If you are stressed, you may dance vigorously and with great intensity to process the intensity of the feeling. If you are in love, you may paint a beautiful, romantic picture to capture the emotional experience. 


Research also indicates that expressing gratitude can improve our general sense of well-being, especially pertaining to our mood (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). We can practice gratitude through a simple thought journal where we make an intention to note aspects of our life that we are thankful for. We can also express gratitude directly to other people. Gratitude helps us focus on the positive aspects of our lives in a way that makes those positive aspects more salient to us.


Self-compassion describes the process of turning kindness inward towards ourselves. 

It is especially important to practice self-compassion when we “fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate. We give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold and judgmental when challenges and difficulty arise in our lives. Research indicates that self-compassion is one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available to us, radically improving our mental and physical well-being. It motivates us to make changes and reach our goals not because we’re inadequate, but because we care and want to be happy” (Neff, 2022). 


Mindfulness describes the practice of acknowledging what is happening in the present moment, both outside of yourself (the world around you) and with yourself (your emotions and bodily sensations) without judgment. “Research in mindfulness has identified a wide range of benefits in different areas of psychological health, such as helping to decrease anxiety, depression, rumination, and emotional reactivity. Research has also shown mindfulness helps to increase well-being, positive affect, and concentration” (UCLA Health, 2023). 


Obtaining an adequate amount of sleep helps us cope with stress better, has a positive effect on memory, and improves mood (Korb, 2015).  Sleep hygiene is a term we are suggested to get familiar with and describes good sleep habits that can help improve sleep quality. 

Seek Support

At the Mental Health Center, we have several knowledgeable and compassionate physicians affiliated with the Mental Health Center who are experts in treating a multitude of mental health disorders and related concerns. We care about our patients and have supported many people who have left treatment with improved mental health and wellbeing.

Ketamine Therapy Center also supports individuals on their journey towards better mental health by providing ketamine therapy, an effective and fast-acting medication for treatment-resistant depression. Doctors, nurses, and therapists support patients at the Ketamine Therapy Center to deliver the best care.

Please contact our office at (310) 601-9999 or visit our Mental Health Center website to schedule an appointment today!




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2024). About mental health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Emmons, R.,  & McCullough, M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of personality and social psychology. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from 

Korb, A. (2015). The upward spiral: Using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time. New Harbinger Publications.

Neff, Kristin (2022). Compassion. Self-Compassion – Dr. Kristin Neff. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from 

UCLA Health System. (2023).