Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread.
That is why each year, during the first week of October, National Alliance on Mental Illness and participants across the country raise awareness of mental illness. Each year, we educate the public, fight stigma and provide support. And each year, our movement grows stronger.
We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice.
Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week, advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.
In 2018, NAMI will promote the theme of CureStigma throughout all awareness events, including Mental Illness Awareness Week which takes place from Oct. 7 through 13.
Why this cause is important: One in five Americans is affected by mental health conditions. Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment.
The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it.
Campaign manifesto: There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the one in five Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100 percent curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure.
NAMI is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by serious mental illness.
Remember, you are not alone! NAMI has 40 years of experience assisting people with mental illness and their families.
If you wish to learn more about how NAMI educational programs can help you or someone you love, please contact me at (937) 750-1702 or visit NAMI.org.
Pete Floyd is president of The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Logan and Champaign Counties.