We see the effects of mental illness every day and most of the time, we don’t associate it with what is going on around us. Absenteeism from work or civic functions, family dysfunction or violence, homelessness, or incidents of violence in the workplace or involving the police — these are just some of the more common situations we see occurring, typically grounded in mental illness. What have you seen in the past month which could be related?
The purpose of Mental Illness Awareness Week is to end the stigma associated with mental illness and increase awareness of this widespread disease and the debilitating effects suffered.
Let’s Think About This
The fact is, one in four Americans over the age of 18 suffer from some type of mental illness. It is estimated that those numbers are higher, but others suffer but are never identified, diagnosed, or affiliated with the illness because of the stigma associated with it. Of those we know that suffer from mental illness, it is estimated they suffer from two or more disorders. These range from fairly common mood disorders to the much more serious disorders, which may include major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia. As a country, nearly every American is either directly or indirectly affected by mental illness.
Fight to End Stigma
The battle to end the suffering begins with a three-pronged approach. The first approach is to educate individuals and the community about mental illness and the adverse impacts on individuals, the community, and our nation. The second approach is about ending the stigma associated with mental illness. There cannot be any more isolation or discrimination based on the diagnosis or treatment of mental illness. We have to commit to affecting change and treating everyone suffering with the dignity and respect they deserve. The third approach is through treatment. We have to offer treatment and healthcare solutions on inpatient and outpatient opportunities that impact the widest range of those suffering.
Who Leads the Charge
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was established by Congress in 1990 to increase awareness and end the stigma of mental illness through national educational efforts. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the right organization to fight the battle and end the stigma of mental illness. NAMI is the most prominent mental illness advocate in the US, who leads the charge every day. They are the organization that spearheads and advocates for Mental Illness Awareness Week, partnering with our Congress to make a change. Since 1990, NAMI has fought to increase awareness, reduce the stigma, and educate Americans in a prolific grassroots effort. NAMI supports mental illness efforts on local, regional, and national platforms.
The theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” During the week, NAMI will amplify the voices of those who have the experience to speak to the conditions and symptoms that are most misunderstood.
We are proud to support the efforts of NAMI through outreach and awareness events. Our CEO Endrea Kosven is a volunteer board member with NAMI San Fernando Valley and helps promote awareness of mental illness through events and fundraisers, including the annual NAMIWalks. For more information, please visit NamiGLAC.org.