May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Maureen Neumann | Posted on May 1, 2024

Mental Health Feature Image

This May, we’re recognizing the 75th annual Mental Health Awareness Month. For the past 75 years, this national movement has highlighted the importance of eradicating stigma, extending support, fostering education and advocating for the well-being of those affected by mental illness.

In 2024, the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) is celebrating the month with the Take the Moment Campaign — a chance to hold open conversations, create spaces that foster empathy and understanding, and support community members on their journey to mental well-being. At NRPA, we recognize that these activities holistically appear in park and recreation agencies already and are eager to lift up the work park and recreation professionals do each day to support mental well-being.

During the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference this past October, we asked members to tell us how they support mental well-being across their programs and services. We heard beautiful examples of support, including members who shared about community programs to address mental health. For example, one community ran a gun violence prevention program. Other programs included mindfulness and yoga opportunities for the community and health and wellness programs for employees. Members also shared their efforts to implement trauma-informed practices in their work and to create a culture focused on safety. More strategies to advance mental health and well-being can be found in NRPA’s Community Wellness Hub digital toolkit.

To support Mental Health Awareness Month and continue the conversation all year, NRPA is pleased to release our new webpage that celebrates the ways in which parks and recreation promotes mental health and well-being. This new webpage offers data on the impact of parks and recreation on mental health, provides a downloadable infographic that can be shared with your community, and shares ideas on strategies you can incorporate to promote mental health within your programs and services.

Join us in celebrating May as Mental Health Awareness Month and sharing your stories here and using the hashtag #MentalHealthinParks.

Maureen Neumann is senior program manager at NRPA.