Whether its NFL players wearing pink cleats in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month or men going the month of November without shaving to raise awareness around men’s health issues, it seems like every month has some sort of health observance – official or unofficial – associated with it.
In fact, all twelve months are accompanied by health observances – usually more than one. In fact, just about every week also has a health awareness issue attached to it.
But what’s the point of all these health observances? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that “National Health Observances are special days, weeks, or months dedicated to raising awareness about important health topics.”
While some observances, like International Mediterranean Diet Month in May, probably don’t do much to move the needle in terms of making a difference in people’s health, some do.
Many healthcare organizations align community education and screening efforts for particular conditions around these observances. For instance, promoting heart screenings during February, National Heart Month. They also can energize people who may have been neglecting a certain aspect of their health to finally take action – like getting a colonoscopy during March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
In addition, organizations dedicated to addressing specific health conditions often host events around these observances that raise money for research that could one day lead to new treatments for the conditions they seek to address.
In these cases, health observances mean more than awareness, they can deliver real results.