Mental Illness Awareness Week Activities To Do With Your Team - woman sitting on rocky shoreline looking at sunset

Mental Illness Awareness Week Activities To Do With Your Team

Amelia Wilcox
September 30, 2022
October 9, 2022

Mental Illness Awareness Week is a fantastic time to revisit mental health initiatives and education in the workplace. With the holidays approaching and important end-of-year deadlines approaching, employees and managers can benefit from a mental health and mental illness refresher.  

What is mental illness awareness week?

Congress created mental Illness Awareness Week to recognize NAMI’s efforts to spread mental illness awareness, provide mental health resources, and educate people about mental health. This national observance is held on the first whole week of October each year.  Mental Illness Awareness Week 2022 runs from October 2nd to October 8th.  Typically, World Mental Health Day (held on October 10th every year) falls shortly after or during Mental Illness Awareness Week each October.  Related: Mental Health vs Mental Illness: What’s the Difference?

Mental Illness Awareness Week Activities for Employers

Mental Illness Awareness Week is a great time to revisit three things:

  1. Teach employees about mental illness
  3. Revisit your manager training process and company policies
  5. Explore how to help your employees even better

1. Teach employees about mental illness

Mental Illness Awareness Week Activities To Do With Your Team - woman sitting on rocky shoreline looking at sunset

Lunch and learns are great because they allow your team to come together, connect, slow down, and learn something in the process. Try contacting your mental health program and see if they will lead and organize it for you.  For bonus points, involve your CEO and have them share a little about their mental health journey.  Here is an example schedule for your lunch and learn or workshop for inspiration:

  • Lunch is held (45 minutes)
  • CEO talks about their mental health or mental illness experience (10 minutes)
  • A counselor from your company’s mental health program gives a presentation on common mental illnesses (like depression and anxiety), how to recognize them in yourself and others, and how to support yourself and others that may be struggling (30 minutes)
  • Hold a breakout group where employees talk about what they learned and their takeaways (15 minutes)
  • Closing (5 minutes)

2. Revisit your manager training process and company policies

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if your team needs to reconsider manager training and company policies around mental health:

  • Are managers comfortable talking about mental health with their direct reports?
  • Do they know where to refer employees struggling with mental illness?
  • Is leadership taking action to prioritize mental health through example? (i.e., taking mental health days, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, etc.)
  • Are employees taking their entire PTO?
  • Are employees using the mental health program and/or EAP you provide them?

Check out this presentation for more in-depth information on manager training and how to do it.  

3. Explore how to help your employees even better

Most employees don’t talk about their mental health with their boss. Even when your company is prioritizing mental health, some employees may be slow to open up or feel comfortable taking a mental health day, for instance.  To gauge how employees are doing, try sending out an anonymous survey to see how employees are doing and how your company can better support mental health.  This is also a great time to evaluate the utilization of your current EAP and/or mental health program.  Related: 14 Mental Health Awareness Month Activities for Employees

4. Share crisis resources

Finally, you can email employees with these resources so they can bookmark them for later.

Dial 988 to contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline

Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264 or text “HelpLine” to 62640

Text the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home” to 741741

Call the Veterans Crisis Text Line at 988 and dial 1 or text 838255

We hope these Mental Illness Awareness Week activities help your team support employee mental health even better.

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Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox
Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement. Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.