Healthcare holidays are an important factor in spreading social awareness and support. Some of the more recognizable ones, like Autism Awareness Month (April) or World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), have thrived over the last few years. These holidays have lead to major movements that have increased funding, understanding, and recognition for many previously unacknowledged conditions.
It is incredibly important to continue to support each and every healthcare holiday that we can, but some need a bit more help to receive recognition. We wanted to take some time to acknowledge some of the lesser-known monthly, weekly, and daily healthcare holidays for April.
Each type of holiday has pros and cons. For monthly holidays, there is the benefit of time. Beforehand, organizers are able to come together to create events, marketing, and coordinate the movement over multiple locations and days. During the month, there is time for several different celebrations and events, meaning that organizers can take the time to focus on specific needs at each event, such as awareness or fundraising.
While time serves as a largely good factor here, it can easily become an issue. Keeping the attention of an audience for 30 days is difficult, but it is even more so to keep an audience motivated that long. Campaigns have to choose between going hard in the beginning and loosing steam by the mid-month or trying not to overwhelm their audience and risk not garnering meaningful attention.
Many groups have this down to a science, such as National Autism Awareness Month, but some groups need an extra hand. Here are some month-long holidays that will be taking place in April:
• National Donate Life Month: While donation and transplantation in-person events are being cancelled this year due to COVID, we can still make sure to spread awareness. This is a great month to listen to the stories of those who have been given a second chance due to organ, eye or tissue donations. If you are motivated to register yourself or are interested in helping out otherwise, there is great information here.
• National Minority Health Month: This month is a great opportunity to bring awareness to healthcare disparities minority groups face. We cannot fix issues like this until we address and acknowledge it, so be vocal about your own stories. Additionally, there are ways to help others and ensure equal health policies and treatments across multiple programs and practices, so read through to see how you can best get involved.
• Stress Awareness Month: Mental health and it’s toll on the physical body is still something we struggle to learn about and properly measure. We have been in lockdown and under great stress as a nation over the last year. Take some time this month to learn about the signs and dangers of stress. Together, we can get rid of the dangerous misconceptions that come with stress and create a healthier society.
Weekly holidays have a great balance in terms of time. While there is less time for multiple events, it is easier to keep people motivated about the movement. Healthcare holidays in this category are great for holidays that encourage action more so than awareness. With the shorter time period, awareness movements would be forced to pick and choose the most enticing and driving information to highlight.
With week-long holidays, organizers have the ability to create a ‘limited experience’ atmosphere to draw people to action. While most of these ‘holidays’ incorporate things we regularly encourage people to do on a regular basis, the idea that the action has attention and social motivation gives reason for people who normally would not act to do so.
While it’s always good to celebrate as many of these weeks as possible, we wanted to shed some light on those that might get lost in the excitement:
• Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week: (April 11 – 16) Cancer awareness, testing, and treatments have made great strides in recent years. That being said, there is still a lot of room for social awareness and encouragement to get tested. We are still learning about different cancers, so awareness weeks have been spread throughout the year. There is a lot of information, but taking it in a little at a time is a great way to start.
• National Pediatric Transplant Week: (April 18 – 24) This month is a great opportunity to talk about organ donation at all levels, but this week gives focus to pediatric donations. The stories told during this time highlight how important it is to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. There are also many other things you can do to help outside of donating, so check it out!
• Patient Experience Week: (April 26 – May 2) This week is an open opportunity for patients to talk about their experiences being treated. This is both an excellent week to show praise and thanks to our healthcare workers, but also to bring notice to trends. If there is a specific complaint or praise that is often repeated, it is likely to be addressed in multiple workplaces. Active participation here ensures a better healthcare experience for all.
Daily Holidays get the least benefit from time. Where other celebrations get time to wind up and create excitement while their events are on-going, daily holidays do not. Instead, they need to create enough social attention beforehand because they will only have one opportunity throughout the year to have the spotlight.
What is even more difficult is that several holidays fall on the exact same day, so not only are they competing with monthly and weekly holidays, but also with other daily holidays. Because of this, we like to bring them a little extra attention as often as possible:
• National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day: (April 10) HIV and AIDS work has come a long way in the last 20 years alone, but it is nowhere near gone just yet. Infections are declining, but that will only continue if we educate and test people of every demographic. The more this practice is standardized, the more likely we are to stop the spread permanently.
• National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: (April 15) Take Back days have been very popular in the last few years, but especially in healthcare world. Misuse or abuse of prescription medications, such as stimulants, pain relievers, and sedatives endangered over 15 million people in 2019 alone. The DEA Take Back gives an opportunity to properly dispose of any possible temptations that can come from leftover prescription medication. Check out the website to see where your closest drop-off location is!
• World Hemophilia Day: (April 17) Bleeding disorders are often grouped together by name, despite how different they can be. While this year focuses on surviving and thriving during the pandemic, take some time to scroll through the website and find out about how you can help those with blood disorders on an average day.
• World Day for Safety and Health at Work: (April 28) This holiday is more important than ever, even as we move towards the end of the pandemic. Preventative measures are starting to be rolled back and, while the workplace environment has certainly changed, health and safety measures cannot be overlooked. Take some time this day to have an open conversation with others about how to best stay safe in the workplace.
While there is a lot of information here, this is only a portion of what can be found. Take a look out in the world and tell us about some other healthcare holidays that you have found!