One in four adults − approximately 61.5 million Americans − experiences mental illness while one in five young adults ages 13 to 18 experience mental illness in any given year. It’s important to bring awareness to mental health in order to understand and learn the symptoms of major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. For this year’s discussion surrounding Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), from October 5-11, 2014, the topic of acceptance and fostering safe environments for those living with mental illness is important and crucial to our growth as a community.
With the tragedies that have occurred this year alone, including the untimely passing of Robin Williams as well as the Santa Barbara shooting, now more than ever do we need to channel our efforts into making a difference within our communities for those living with mental illness. Rather than shy away from discourse surrounding mental illness, talking about mental health alone can be a positive reinforcement that people can live normal lives despite what the media tries to portray. As MIAW begins, we can all act as mental health ambassadors by encouraging others to get involved in activities supporting mental health awareness as well as supporting those who are living with mental illness.
With so many available resources and outlets designed to help those who live with mental illness, NAMI works toward breaking down negative stereotypes and implementing environments of inclusion. Programs such as Family-to-Family and NAMI Basics helps individuals learn about mental illness and the systems that families and individuals may encounter. It’s important to remember that mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness and lack of character development. Treatment works, but only if a person can get it. Dialogue must ultimately turn into action. But education comes first. The more people know about mental illness, the better they can help themselves, their families and communities to get the help they need.
Together we can break down the stigma and bias surrounding mental illness.
Go to namiwisconsin.org/miaw to see how NAMI Wisconsin is celebrating!