Mental Health Awareness Week this year takes place October 4th through 10th. It’s important for all of us to get real and educated about stigma and how mental health impacts our friends, family and often ourselves. Depression, anxiety and other diagnoses impact all of us. This Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to helping the public understand what resources are available and to help spread stigma-free awareness.
What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness.
This year, the theme revolves around building a movement through the new Stigma Free initiative. Being Stigma Free means learning about and educating others on mental illness, focusing on connecting with people to see each other as individuals and not as a diagnosis, and most importantly, taking action on mental health issues and taking the StigmaFree pledge. The hashtag for the theme is #IAmStigmaFree. Learn more at here.
A mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. This condition may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis, although everyone’s experience with mental illness is different. Research suggests a mental health condition is the result of multiple and interlinking causes rather that the result of only one event.
Why Mental Health Awareness Week is So Important
According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly 1 in 4 Americans, or 62 million, are affected by mental illness annually, and 1 in 17, or 14 million, live with a major mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Close to 20 percent of teens from 13-18 cope with mental illness annually, and about 18 percent of adults (42 million persons) cope with anxiety disorders. One in 25 adults, about 13.6 million, will experience a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activity. That means someone you love or someone you know is likely to suffer silently.
Current research reveals that only 41 percent of adults in the nation with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Research also suggests that half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24, and despite effective treatment options available, there are generally long delays – sometimes decades – between the onset of symptoms and treatment.
What is frightening is that almost 60% of adults and half of youth 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no mental health services and treatment in the previous year. Through mental health awareness, those affected can seek empirically validated and effective treatment. People can realize their full potential, overcome stress and lead meaningful lives through awareness and proper treatment. There are many tools available including medication, counseling, social support and education. Take the pledge today and help yourself, family and friends.
If you feel that you are suffering from a mental health disorder or have a loved one who is please contact your doctor or practitioner. You can also find great resources on the NAMI website. For natural help visit our website here.
By Emily Roberts MA, LPC
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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