For many years, the National Health Observances Calendar was the guide for health care communicator's yearly agendas. To some degree, it still is: We know that February is Heart Month and that October is Breast Cancer Awareness.
But recently, with the help of social media, new observances that aren't on the national calendar are becoming forces in the health observances game. November has been designated "Movember" for men's health awareness, and has resulted in a slew Facebook mustache contests (check out mine--it was disgusting) and more than $14 million raised in the U.S.
There are selection guidelines to obtain representation on the calendar, but based on some observances listed, I wonder how stringent these requirements are. I know, I know, the goal is to help raise awareness about certain serious issues, but does everybody get a spot on the calendar? Here is a list of observances your hospital could probably ignore in 2012:
- January is National Radon Action Month. Radon can be harmful, but so are many other noble gases. Krypton adversely affects many superheroes, and helium, when unintentionally sucked, can have insidiously comedic results.
- The American Dental Association gets selfish in February with both National Children's Dental Health Month and Give Kids a Smile Day.
- April is National Facial Protection Month, which perhaps incorrectly coincides with baseball's spring training, rather than hockey season.
- June is a slow month, but features National Rip Current Awareness Week, which feels a little discriminatory for a "national" calendar. What is your average Nebraskan to do about this?
- September has both Whole Grains Month and National Celiac Awareness Day, while Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month is in April and GERD Awareness Week is in November.
- While October belongs to Breast Cancer Awareness, it's also National Medical Librarians Month. Ssshhhh.
- Drowsy Driving Prevention Week happens in November, while National Distracted Driving Awareness Month is April and Drive Safely to Work Week is in October.
I hope that 2012 finds you and your organization safe, happy and rabies-free (assuming you've recognized World Rabies Day on November 29).