October 4 through October 10, 2015 is Mental Illness Awareness Week.
It is also a perfect time to take the “StigmaFree Pledge” launched by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) earlier this year. The pledge involves three basic steps that can be found at www.nami.org/stigmafree.
• Learn about mental health and educate others
• See the person not the illness—strive to listen and understand
• Take action, spread the word, raise awareness and make a difference
Mental illness is a medical condition, but one that often is surrounded by silence or stereotypes that discourage people from getting help if they need it.
One in five adults experiences a mental illness in any given year. Those problems can contribute to onset of more serious long-term conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Approximately one-half of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24. Unfortunately, long delays−sometimes decades−often occur between the time symptoms first appear and when people get help.
If nothing else during Mental Illness Awareness Week, please learn to recognize early symptoms of mental illness and the importance of talking with a doctor about any concerns. Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for successful management of a condition. Learn more about a specific condition.
Anyone who experiences symptoms of mental illness should see a doctor to discussion then and be checked for physical conditions to which they may be related. The next step might be referral to mental health specialist. A range of treatment options exist.
During Mental Illness Awareness Week, please take the first step by taking the StigmaFree Pledge. Help yourself, your family, your friends and your community. Help make a difference by saving lives and supporting recovery.