Banner for mental illness awareness week in October

Mental Health Awareness Week is October 6th-12th

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), millions of Americans are currently living with mental health conditions. In fact, did you know that NAMI estimates one out of every five adults experience a mental illness every year?

With so many people affected every year, it is very likely that you or someone close to you is experiencing a mental condition. Despite the vast amount of people with mental conditions, there are still several misunderstandings and stigmas that surround mental illness and mental health.

In order to establish a better understanding about mental health conditions, NAMI pushed for awareness efforts. As a result, in 1990 Congress declared the first week in October “Mental Illness Awareness Week”.

"You are more than your illness" with  half a normal brain and half with flowers growing out of it

During Mental Health Awareness Week, mental health professionals, organizations, and individuals work together to promote outreach and education about mental illness.

Some events that can take place include:

  • Art/music events
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Health fairs
  • Prayer services
  • Movie nights
  • Candlelight vigils
  • Benefit runs

The main goal of Mental Health Awareness Week is to change societal perceptions of mental health and mental illness. Currently, many people express negative views or behaviors when confronted with a loved ones mental illness.

These negative views are usually the result of:

  • A lack of information or awareness
  • Concern for how the individual will be perceived
  • Inability to relate

Nevertheless, these negative views are detrimental to a person experiencing a mental illness. Having a support system is highly important for those with mental health conditions. Unfortunately, these negative comments often leave individuals feeling isolated and lonely.

In order to raise awareness about how to support someone with a mental illness, Mental Health America centered their 2018 campaign around “things people said about my mental illness”.

Through this campaign, they are hoping to educate the public through the personal experiences of those who deal with their mental illness everyday. They also hope to change the language associated with mental illness by drawing attention to the things people say.

Things people say about mental health. "Snap out of it"
"Other people have it much worse than you"
"Have you thought about how hard this is on us?"
"Cheer up"
"You're just being lazy"
"Get over it"
"Have you tried a new diet plan?"
"What do you have to be sad about"
"You don't look depressed"
"You just want attention"
"Stop acting crazy" 
"Just pray about it"
"Just don't worry about it"
"Do you want to get better?"
"You have everything you need to get better"

The end goal is to change the negative stigma associated with mental health. Many people don’t seek professional help because of this stigma. Others try and quickly become discouraged.

Having a mental illness shouldn’t mean that you have to suffer. Rather, it just means you need to learn more about yourself and how to live with it. For most people, this is only possibly through seeking professional help.

Although mental health conditions only affect 1 in 5 Americans, the effects have the potential to affect us all. NAMI estimates that America spends about $193.2 billion on serious mental illness every year. Furthermore, NAMI notes, “Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S for both youth and adults ages 18-44″.

At the end of the day, mental health conditions affect everyone, whether directly or indirectly. By raising awareness and promoting education, together we can change the stigma associated with mental health. Happy Mental Illness Awareness Week!

Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability.  For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.

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