Typically held the first or second week of August annually, the National Mental Health Center Week celebrates all of our healthcare heroes, helps us look back on all that health centers have accomplished over the years, and raises mental health awareness for those interested in this topic across the United States.
Mental health centers exist for anyone experiencing crises or emotional distress. For example, in the state of Tennessee alone, 544,494 patients received care for substance use and abuse through a mental health center, 77% of whom live below the federal poverty line and 33% of whom did not have insurance in 2018.
The event has been a tradition now for more than thirty years. From August 9 through August 15, National Mental Health Center Week is a cornerstone for local practitioners across the country and allies wishing to raise mental health awareness. It’s no coincidence that the week is in the month of August; this is usually the month when Congressional representatives come back to their home states and districts, so this timing gives politicians an opportunity to take part.
This celebration originated as a small confederation of local mental health centers and slowly evolved as society began to accept that mental and emotional health is equally important as physical health. Over the years, the majority of states have made this annual celebration legally recognized through legislative action or executive orders. As they’re received well politically on a bipartisan basis and socially, these centers have continued to receive more funding and public awareness.
At the crux of the National Mental Health Center Week are “focus days.” Each of the seven days has a theme, or “focus,” that is evaluated, discussed, and promoted. Typically, there are seminars across the country that congregate daily to discuss each focus. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these seminars and celebrations are largely virtual for 2020.
Going in order from August 9, 2020 through August 15, 2020, here is each daily focus:
- Sunday: Public Health in Housing Day
- Monday: Healthcare for the Homeless Day
- Tuesday: Agricultural Worker Health Day
- Wednesday: Patient Appreciation Day
- Thursday: Stakeholder Appreciation Day
- Friday: Health Center Staff Appreciation Day
- Saturday: Children’s Health Day
So, how can you celebrate and participate in each of these days in the midst of COVID-19? In addition to spreading awareness on social media each day, there’s an international index of events located on the National Mental Health Center’s website here. Some are remote, some are in-person but socially distanced, and they’re all for a great cause!