May is Mental Health Awareness Month

may is mental health awareness month

Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to an end. However, it is equally important that we talk openly about mental health year-round, not just during the month of May. Each year, we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. By focusing the national conversation on mental health, we can break down stigma surrounding mental illness and build momentum to keep talking about mental health year-round. 

“Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on mental health to let everyone know that we need to take care of our mental wellbeing,” said Laurie Emerson, Executive Director of NAMI Vermont. NAMI Vermont’s volunteers are making a difference by administering our free educational programs and support groups. You can get involved by sharing your lived experience story through our presentations. Let’s open the dialogue about mental health to let people know ‘You Are Not Alone.’ If you or your family is experiencing a crisis, call 9-8-8—the new Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention Lifeline—or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Our conversations about mental health will break down the barriers and stigma that prevent people from seeking help. You can make a difference in someone’s life by being present and listening without judgement.” 

NAMI Vermont’s Outreach and Education Efforts

On April 29, NAMI Vermont held its annual outreach and fundraising event, “NAMIWalks Vermont.” Almost 150 people gathered in Burlington to demonstrate their support of mental health for all and NAMI Vermont’s mission. Mental health is being openly discussed like never before, and events like NAMIWalks Vermont inspire community members and harness this momentum so that we can continue to talk about mental health, on a personal and legislative level, without the barrier of stigma. 

NAMI Vermont offers support groups for individuals with mental health conditions and for family members, spouses/partners, and close friends of those with mental health challenges. The organization also offers various free programs that provide education and/or personal stories of lived experience from those living in recovery with mental health conditions. In recognition of these efforts, NAMI Vermont received the Human & Civil Rights Award from the Vermont-National Educators Association in March 2023.  

Need for Mental Health Support

Recent statistics show the growing need for mental health support. The NAMI HelpLine saw an increase of more than 300% in help-seeker —from 18,000 in 2016 to nearly 80,000 in 2022. Help-seekers with suicidal ideation or crisis situations rose from 3.3% in early 2020 to 7.7% in early 2023. We need to continue to talk about mental health and take action year-round to reduce the stigma around mental health and advocate for better, more expansive mental health care systems.

Mental Health Facts From NAMI (see more at
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year 
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year 
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year 
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24 
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 14  

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, here are some resources to use: 

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988 (call or text 24/7)  

VT Crisis Text Line: Text “VT” to 741741 (24/7) 

Pathways Vermont Support Line: (833) VT-TALKS (call or text 24/7)  

NAMI HelpLine: Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640, or email [email protected] (Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.) 

Professional Counseling or Therapy 

NAMI Vermont Connection Peer Support Groups (online and in-person):  

NAMI Vermont Family Support Groups (online and in-person):