National Health Observances Calendar
As we approach the end of 2023, we begin looking toward 2024 with excitement and resolve to do more for our health. Luckily there are National Health Observance Calendars readily available. Interest in wellness and its impact on all aspects of our lives has been growing in the past decade. In fact, about 70% of Americans are more conscious about their health today. However, like in most things, there are challenges in wellness, too. A survey revealed that 65% of employees lack the time and motivation to focus on wellness.
What is needed, then, is a lifestyle that can be implemented anytime, so there is no reason not to be healthy and fit. We also need to remember that a healthy lifestyle is not just about fitness. It is a holistic development that affects mental, emotional, nutritional, spiritual, and social health.
Becoming healthy requires a person to manage six intersecting components of one’s well-being, also known as the six pillars of health:
- Physical Wellness
- Mental & Emotional Wellness
- Occupational Wellness
- Nutritional Wellness
- Social Wellness
- Financial Wellness
Wellness in the Workplace
The clamor for a healthy lifestyle has also reverberated within workplaces. Company management and owners obviously don’t want their employees getting sick all the time. Not only does it impact productivity, but it can be stressful for the employee and affect their morale.
Aside from people being individually concerned about their health, workplaces are now proactively encouraging people to have a healthy lifestyle. Wellness programs are being implemented in many businesses.
If you need help with what programs to implement, you can start by studying the National Health Observances calendar. But first, let’s dive into the nuances of wellness programs!
What are Wellness Programs?
Wellness programs are campaigns and activities in the workplace geared toward helping employees have a healthier lifestyle.
Programs vary widely giving businesses many diverse ways to create wellness programs. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Educational resources on how to achieve work-life balance
- A Personal Health Assessment or Health Risk Appraisal
- Onsite Clinics or Flu shot Events
- A workout area in the workplace
- Discount in gyms
- Incentives to participate in physical activities
- Company-initiated workplace competitions
- Weight loss programs
- Smoking cessation programs
- Onsite cooking demonstrations or classes
- Bike racks in the office to encourage people to bike
- Biometric screening so employees are aware of their health status
- Healthy snacks in the pantry or healthy lunch options in the cafeteria
- Recommended walking trails that are safe for employees
Every business can be creative with its wellness programs. The important thing is that it provides a well-thought-out and effective plan tailor-fit for employees.
Businesses must also provide employee-assisted programs focused on wellness. Smokers, for example, may have a hard time quitting. They would benefit from counseling and a program to teach them techniques for kicking the habit.
Counseling or health coaching isn’t just for smokers but for other personal issues as well, such as stress, anxiety, depression, marital problems, alcohol addiction, bereavement, and more.
Wellness programs can also be events. Companies can designate a day when employees can have a yoga class or a lunch-and-learns activity where the company provides a healthy lunch for the entire office and discusses wellness.
How Essential are Wellness Programs?
Nobody wants unhealthy employees. Physically unhealthy employees are prone to absenteeism, which would reduce the business’s productivity as a whole. Employees with emotional, mental, and social issues may resort to presenteeism, where they may be present at work, but are not working well.
Wellness programs, when implemented well, help employees achieve work-life balance. It allows them to manage stress so that work doesn’t get them down. A stressed employee will have low morale, which could affect the morale of the entire workplace.
Does implementing wellness programs sound challenging? Wondering where to start? Well, the easiest way is to have a National Health Observances Calendar.
What is a National Health Observances Calendar?
It is a calendar of the various health observances recognized throughout the year. Many of the observances were based on certain laws. These laws from around the world paved the way for health observances as a way to educate people on what the health issue entails and how it can be prevented. Most health observances are for diseases that affect thousands or millions of people.
There are over 200 health awareness observances in the national calendar. Since 2005, the U.S. Congress has introduced over 145 bills for the observance of various health awareness. There are also monthly health awareness days, covering many health issues, from the most common to the rare ones.
Chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are the leading causes of death, disability, and healthcare costs in the country. But what people should know is that they are caused mainly by risky behaviors, such as poor nutrition, lack of physical activities, too much alcohol intake, and tobacco use. Practicing a healthy lifestyle could lower the risk of becoming part of the statistics for chronic diseases. And since employees spend a lot of time at work, it’s the perfect place to learn about wellness.
Any workplace can set up its own calendar of awareness months to ensure everyone is educated about the most common diseases in the world. Employees can also highlight or nominate an observance that is personal to them so that the rest of the workforce can be aware of it. Management can be creative with the implementation of a health calendar to ensure that employees pay attention and engage in the activities.
Important Health Observances to Include in Every Workplace Calendar
As there are dozens of health observances in the national calendar, you can choose to focus on just one per month or however many you prefer. The important thing is that the health observances are purposeful.
The following events are some of the most essential national health observances you can input in your workplace calendar and some of the activities you can try:
January: National Blood Donor Month
According to the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, January is known for blood shortage. People are often not as keen on donating blood shortly after Christmas and New Year festivities. The cold season is also when people usually get sick with the flu, so they are not healthy enough to donate blood.
Introducing National Blood Donor Month in the workplace will make employees aware of the situation. If you organize a blood-donating activity in the workplace, employees could donate or encourage their family members and even neighbors to donate blood. The accessibility and the intention will encourage them.
While you cannot force employees to donate blood, you could, however, encourage them by offering some incentives, such as a day off or a discount certificate to a store or restaurant. Remember, the incentive is not what’s important but the learning and awareness that comes from the observance.
Other January celebrations:
- National Birth Defects Awareness Month
- Glaucoma Awareness Month
- Winter Safety Week
- Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 2-10)
February: Black Health Awareness Month
Why should a cultural event be part of the National Health Observances Calendar? Because it is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the many diseases that affect the Black community and the health disparity between Black people and their counterparts.
According to reports, African Americans have a higher risk of experiencing the following:
- Heart disease
A piece of health research reported that life expectance for Black people was only 70.8 years compared to 76.1 years among White people, 77.7 years for Hispanic people, and 83.5 years among Asian people. Reasons for such discrepancy include unemployment, poverty, homelessness, failing to see a doctor, obesity, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Celebrating Black Health Awareness Month will help Black colleagues be more aware of the diseases that may impact them, and they, in turn, can share the information with their family and friends.
Other February celebrations:
- National Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month
- National Wear Red Day (February 2 – to raise awareness about heart disease in women)
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Week (February 11-17)
- Cardiovascular Professionals Week (February 11-17)
March: Workplace Eye Wellness Month, Brain Awareness Week, World Sleep Day, Take Down Tobacco Day
March is a treasure trove of monthly health awareness days, including:
- Workplace Eye Wellness Month
- March 13-19 – Brain Awareness Week
- March 17 – World Sleep Day / March 12-18 – Sleep Awareness Week
- March 31 – Take Down Tobacco Day
All these events help make a healthier employee. The Workplace Eye Wellness Month is crucial to all employees who have to spend hours in front of the computer. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has outlined several best practices to maintain healthy eyesight, which would be an excellent resource for every workplace. Among them are the following:
- Take a break and disengage from the screen.
- Look 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to prevent eye strain.
- Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes.
- Use protective eyewear.
All types of work need the brain to function, so it is also vital for employees to be aware of the many studies about the organ. Knowing how to take care of the brain is also useful in preventing disorders like Alzheimer’s, depression, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and stroke. One way to take care of the brain is to get quality sleep.
Sleep is so important there are two events for its awareness–World Sleep Day and Sleep Awareness Week. Sleep will help you rest the brain and the body so you are revitalized the next day, which can help you become more productive. Companies can provide tips to get the right amount of sleep for a healthier mind and body.
Lastly, there is Take Down Tobacco Day, which is about taking down the tobacco industry. But the company can make it about “kicking (cigarette) butts” to have a smoke-free workplace with healthy employees.
Other March celebrations:
- National Nutrition Month
- World Hearing Day (March 3)
- World Oral Health Day (March 20)
- World Water Day (March 22)
April: National Stress Awareness Month
Every person in the world experiences stress. It’s not necessarily the stress that is the problem but how people manage it. Moreover, there is a strong connection between stress and productivity. Stressed people can hardly work because of anxiety and even depression. Most people are stressed because of work and money. So, it makes sense that employers help their employees manage stress.
Wellness programs help employees become healthier through physical activities and a balanced and nutritious diet. These are two things that can help people with stress. The truth is that stress awareness should be observed every month in the National Health Observances calendar to remind people to take a breather.
Other April celebrations:
- Parkinson’s Awareness Month
- National Public Health Week (April 3-9)
- World Health Day (April 7)
- Earth Day (April 22)
- International Noise Awareness Day (April 24)
May: High Blood Pressure Awareness Month
Most people know what high blood pressure or hypertension is, but the statistics about it are still staggering. According to the World Health Organization, close to 1.3 billion people in the world have hypertension, and two-thirds of them are from low- to middle-income countries. About 46% of them are unaware they have it. Hypertension is also said to be a major cause of premature death.
What makes hypertension a bigger problem is that it leads to various other conditions:
- Eye problems
- Heart attack/stroke
- Kidney issues
- Metabolic syndrome
One of the better news regarding hypertension is that it can be preventable with a healthy lifestyle, which is the real goal of wellness programs.
Other May celebrations:
- ALS Awareness Month
- National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
- Skin Cancer Prevention Month
- World Hand Hygiene Day (May 5)
- Lung Cancer Action Week (May 8-14)
June: Men’s Health Month
The entire month is Men’s Health Month, while June 12-18 is Men’s Health Week. Why is there a need to emphasize men’s health? Because they are less likely to address healthcare than women. It is all rooted in perceptions of masculinity and manhood. With that in mind, it becomes even more critical for workplaces to highlight men’s health every June.
The following are some of the health issues common among men:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart-related diseases
- Liver disease
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Sexually transmitted infection
Other June celebrations:
- National Safety Month
- World Environment Day (June 5)
- National Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 18-24)
- Mosquito Awareness Week (June 18-24)
July: Juvenile Arthritis Month, UV Awareness Month, World Hepatitis Day
July is the month with the fewest health events save for December. However, one noted celebration is Juvenile Arthritis Month, which helps raise awareness of the disease that may affect some of the employees’ children.
UV Awareness is another important awareness observance because people who travel to and from the office are exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, the number one cause of skin cancer.
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffer from Hepatitis, which has three varieties: A, B, and C. Hepatitis A and B are preventable because they have vaccines, while Hepatitis C is not. Many have heard of the virus or disease but are unaware of what they truly are. Employees could learn a lot from an annual observance of the issue.
Other July celebrations:
- Extreme Heat Awareness
- Sarcoma Awareness Month
- Healthy Vision Month
August: National Breastfeeding Month
The entire month of August is National Breastfeeding Month, and August 1 to 7 is World Breastfeeding Week.
When the workplace sets aside a month to discuss the importance of breastfeeding, the employees, composed of mothers and non-mothers from all genders, would be more accepting of breastfeeding mothers in public. They can also share what they learned with other people to highlight the importance of breastfeeding and stop mom shaming.
Other August celebrations:
- Children and Youth Preparedness
- Psoriasis Action Month
- National Immunization Awareness Month
- Safe and Sound Week (August 14-20)
September: World Suicide Prevention Day, National Suicide Prevention Week
Many world health days are celebrated in September, and suicide is one issue that people shouldn’t ignore. It will reverberate in the family, among relatives, and in the workplace. Colleagues who experience suicide in the family or among friends, often have difficulty coping mentally and emotionally. Observing World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) and National Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16) will help people understand the issue better.
In the U.S. alone, 48,000 died by suicide in 2021. That same year, an estimated 12.3 million people thought about suicide, while 3.5 million made a plan and 1.7 million attempted suicide. A healthy lifestyle could do so much in lowering the risk of attempted suicide because of the holistic effect on a person.
Other September celebrations:
- Healthy Aging Month
- National Food Safety Education Month
- Newborn Screening Awareness Month
- World Environmental Health Day
October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is among the most well known health awareness days worldwide. In this month, people wear pink, which is already a clue about what you can do in the workplace. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, with skin cancer at the top. Over time, breast cancer deaths have been steadily declining, and it is not far off to say that the awareness events, which started in the 1980s, have really worked.
Other October celebrations:
- Children’s Health Month
- Global Handwashing Day (October 15)
- World Food Day (October 16)
- National Health Education Week (October 16-20)
- National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 22-28)
November: National Diabetes Month
Diabetes is another health issue that people are aware of, but hundreds of millions continue to experience it yearly. It is a dangerous disease that can lead to complications like blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, limb amputation, and stroke. Then again, this is a disease that could be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle.
According to the World Health Organization, the following can help prevent diabetes:
- Maintain your ideal body weight
- Be active for at least 30 minutes a day
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar and saturated fat
- Avoid smoking
It is such a significant health issue that November isn’t just National Diabetes Month; it is also Diabetic Eye Disease Month, and November 14 is World Diabetes Day.
Other November celebrations:
- American Diabetes Month
- Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
- Lung Cancer Awareness Month
- National Healthy Skin Month
December: Handwashing awareness week, World AIDS Day
It is no secret that December is the time of year everyone seems to have a sniffle, cough or fever. Handwashing has been proven to slow the spread of many common illnesses so it makes perfect sense that the first full week of December is National Handwashing Awareness Week.
Try these initiatives in your workplace to celebrate and ensure proper hand washing:
- Decorate your bathroom like a birthday party to encourage and remind individuals to wash as long as it takes to sing the happy birthday song!
- Provide a variety of soap options for users to choose from. People will utilize the proper amount of soap when they are drawn to the scent.
- Place key or vital information in the bathroom and encourage individuals to wash hands while they “review the document or meeting password from the bathroom mirror” for example.
- Perform hand washing drills throughout the day. A few times each day, sound a special alarm and allow a 5-10 minute break encouraging all employees to go wash their hands.
Whether you find these examples silly or clever, they will provide the opportunity and reminders people need to ensure frequent and proper handwashing is completed.
Since 1988, World AIDS Day has been observed every December 1. And since fall and winter are also flu season, December 5 to 9 have been designated National Influenza Week. Many workplaces celebrate the Christmas season in December, but injecting some health awareness into the festivities is still good.
Other December celebration:
- National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 5-9)
- Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week (December 1-7)
Healthy employees result in a productive workplace. A healthy lifestyle is a product of education and awareness. It is not too late for companies to start a health and wellness campaign. To do that, you can utilize an in-house National Health Observances Calendar to help employees become more aware of the most common health issues in the country. There are thousands of diseases out there, and bringing awareness to a dozen or more could help you kickstart a healthy lifestyle in the workplace.