Mental Health Awareness Month | YMCA DC

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act—we all have mental health.

The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is working side by side with the communities we serve to help our neighbors care for themselves and others.

At the Y, we recognize that everyone has mental health, and mental health is an important part of our overall health.

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical well-being, and you can support both in similar ways.  By following day-to-day healthy practices, and asking for additional support when needed, you can stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

To support our community members in their daily mental-health self-care, the YMCA offers help with:

Exercise – Regular exercise triggers your body to release both endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that improve our mood and decrease our negative reactions to stress. Hear from Aaron Terry, one of the particpants in our Fit and Well Seniors program, on how exercise improved his PTSD symptoms.

Healthy Eating – The YMCA offers nutrition counseling sessions with our Registered Dietician. Studies show that balanced diets of mainly whole, unprocessed foods, can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Meditation – Meditation helps decrease your mind’s reaction to stress, avoid anxiety, and helps it process emotions in a helpful way. In addition to meditation classes, the YMCA offers Yoga classes, which build in the benefits of meditation to simple exercise poses and stretches.

Socializing – Most people (yes, even introverts), get an emotional boost from social interactions. Moving as a group (like dancing) provides an even larger boost. The YMCA offers plenty of social sports – like Pickleball and Tennis as well as fun Group Exercise classes that get everyone moving to the music.


If you or someone you know has a mental health illness or is struggling emotionally, there are ways to get help. 

In life-threatening situations, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

If you are suicidal or in emotional distress, consider calling 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. You can call or text to connect with a trained crisis counselor.  Learn more here.

Mental illness treatment may involve therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; bring up your mental health concerns with your Primary Care Provider. 

For a more comprehensive list of resources, visit NAMI by clicking here

Additional Support

The YMCA also employs certified Mental Health Therapists and Social Workers to improve access to professional mental health care in under-served communities. Our Youth and Family Services team primarily serves eligible families in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is looking to expand its services to other counties soon. Click here to learn more.