By Canyon Skare
While the coming of April often brings to mind April Fool’s pranks, this month also brings special awareness to multiple communities, services, and dimensions of well-being. Here at NMHC, we’re looking to highlight a few of them this month, reminding everyone to stay mindful of their mental health.
First launched in 1972 as “National Autistic Children’s Week,” April quickly evolved into Autism Acceptance Month, with World Autism Awareness Day itself being observed on April 2nd. Autism refers to a broad range of conditions, characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. These are just common challenges, however, as there are many subtypes of autism along a spectrum with 1 in 44 people being affected. So throughout April, we encourage everyone to keep their neurodivergent friends and family in their thoughts, remembering to be accommodating of the needs of these individuals, meeting them with kindness and understanding.
April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. First observed by way of presidential proclamation from Ronald Reagan in 1983, Child Abuse Prevention Month has been a staple of the national conversation. In 2016, Barack Obama released an official statement during April, stating that “during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.” His words ring true, as 2020 studies from the Children’s bureau showed that approximately two million children received Abuse Prevention services and around 1.2 million received response services. In our own efforts to “recommit to giving every child” a safe home, April should also find us keeping an eye on the children in our lives.
In addition, the Stress Management Association first observed stress awareness month in April of 1992, and it continues to today. As a third-year undergraduate at UNL, I can certainly relate to this. This time of the semester, tests, projects, and papers start piling up, causing folks like me a lot of stress. Aside from measures of Acute Stress or types of short-term stress that go away quickly after the stressful event is over, it’s highly important to be aware of Chronic Stress this month. Chronic stress lasts for longer periods of time, going from multiple weeks to months. For those with chronic stress, they can often fail to realize that it’s a problem, and if they don’t find ways to manage stress, it can also lead to other mental health concerns like Anxiety and Depression. One great way people have kept their stress in check during April is through the 30-day stress awareness challenge. This 30-day challenge encourages people to do one action each day that will benefit their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, National Counseling Awareness Month, and the first week of April is National Workplace Wellness Week! Regardless of where you’re at this month, we at NMHC encourage you to be a little more mindful of these communities, services, and dimensions of well being throughout April. And of course, find time to enjoy those April showers.