Millions of Americans are living with a mental health condition. In fact, in the United States, 20% of adults and 1 in 6 children aged 6-17 experience mental illness every year. Mental illness affects people of all ages, ethnicities, educational levels, religions, and socioeconomic status. Even if you may not be struggling with a mental illness yourself, chances are your life has been touched by a friend or family member who battles a mental health condition every day. Though some mental health conditions manifest themselves with outward signs, many symptoms are silent which can often create barriers to treatment and even social acceptance. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been a powerhouse in the arena of mental health, continually advocating and using their platform to bring awareness to the ever-evolving landscape of mental illness.
In 1990, the efforts of NAMI led Congress to officially recognize the impact of mental health on Americans from all backgrounds. Congress dedicated the first week of every October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). During this week, advocates and allies come together to raise awareness and show support for those living with mental health disorders. Events of all types and sizes are planned around the nation. This physical representation of unity empowers those with mental health conditions, as well as their supporters, to break down stigmas and find the strength and resilience to bring lasting change to the world of mental health.
Mental Illness Awareness Week 2021 will begin on October 3rd and last until the 9th. This year’s campaign is “Together for Mental Health” and focuses on the importance of advocating for better care for those living with a serious mental illness. 1 in 20 adults in the United States experiences a serious mental illness every year. Less than two-thirds of those people seek treatment. Lack of access to care, stigmas, and even a lack of awareness all contribute to barriers for care. Mental Illness Awareness Week aims to change that.
Throughout this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, there are additional events that coincide to promote positive mental health outcomes:
Mental Illness Awareness Week is an inspiring time for those living with mental illnesses to share their story and let others know that they are not alone. Many misconceptions circulate regarding different mental health disorders but this opportunity for individuals to come together to share their experiences gives a voice to the millions of people around the world who live with mental illness every day. Participating in Mental Health Awareness Week is an excellent opportunity to build upon your toolkit to build resilience for yourself or your ability to help others. It’s time we come together and create a better world for those living with mental illness. Your voice can make a difference.