Mental Illness Awareness Week, on Oct. 2 - Oct. 8, was established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of National Alliance of Mental Illness’ (NAMI) efforts to help raise consciousness and fight the destructive stigmas that come along with mental illnesses. When one in five adults as well as young teens aged 13-18 suffer from some form of mental illness, it has been deemed an important cause by mental health organizations, especially given the stigmatized treatment that many people who suffer from mental illnesses receive. The event, which NAMI promotes and organizes annually, is a catalyst for change and a cause for mental health advocates across the country.
This year, organizations like NAMI and Each Mind Matters, as well as many more, spread knowledge and coordinated events to raise money for their cause. People were encouraged to post with the hashtag #EachMindMatters, and to tie lime green, Mental Illness Awareness Week’s color, ribbons around their communities.
“I think we believe that so much of mental health disorders or problems we face in life have a lot of shame,” said Jennifer Maerz, the editor for a new magazine devoted to mental health. “We’d be a much healthier world if people could talk about things like anxiety, depression and PTSD [Post Dramatic Stress Disorder] the same way you talk about cancer or migraines. If we look closely at mental health and what that means, we would see that all of us are affected by it in one way or another. The more we collectively understand that it influences all of us, the more everyone can thrive.”
Mental Illness Awareness Week is really a small puzzle piece in the attempt to get rid of stigma, which advocates strive for not only the small window of this week but during the entire year. In a blog post, NAMI stated: “We believe that mental health issues are important to address year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of the tens of millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”