Next week, October 4 - 10, is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In 1990, the United States Congress established the first week of October as "Mental Illness Awareness Week" (MIAW) in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness's (NAMI) to raise mental illness awareness. Since 1990, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first week of October to celebrate.
Think about and share these horrendous statistics:
• Approximately 60 million Americans experience some sort of mental health problem each year.
• One out of 17 Americans lives with a serious mental health disorder.
• According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 10% of children and adolescents in the U.S. experience mental health disorders serious enough to cause significant functional impairment to their daily lives at home, at school, and with their peers.
• 14.8 million Americans (6.7% of the adult population) live with major depressive disorder.
• 5.7 million Americans (2.6% of the adult population) live with bipolar disorder.
• 2.4 million Americans (1.1% of the adult population) live with schizophrenia.
Those statistics are just the tip of the iceberg, but there are some positive facts and statistics too:
• With proper treatment and services, most people with mental health disorders can reduce the impact of their illness and live at least fairly independently and with a good quality of life.
• The effectiveness of today's treatments has improved so much that with a combination of pharmaceutical and psychological treatments, 70 to 90% of people with mental health disorders have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life.
MIAW is about "Building Community, Taking Action." Living well and working toward recovery, despite depression and other mental health conditions, requires many things. I'm sure we quickly think about support from family and friends as well as possibly medical treatment. NAMI also points out that it requires community action, understanding, teamwork, improved science, and reduced stigma.
Living with a mental health disorder is still far from easy or perfect:
• Public education and awareness have a long way to go.
• The current economic climate puts services that were already at risk in even more danger of disappearing.
• Even with advances in mental health parity, insurance can still be insufficient.
• We still must deal with the stigma of being "mentally ill."
In observance of MIAW, I hope each of us will find ways to help educate both ourselves and others about mental health disorders and the many truths about living with them. The NAMI web site has many resources for the week including awareness walks, ways to contact your state or local chapter of NAMI, and much more. Please take a few minutes to visit www.NAMI.org.
Do you have an idea of something special or different for Mental Illness Awareness week? If so, please click on the "Add Comment" link below and share it with us!