It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week! It’s a great time to start a conversation in your health community about how mental illness affects all of us. Here’s some info to get you started. –Amanda
Mental Illness Awareness Week
by Sharifa Simon-Roberts
This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). It is the time where we take a moment to acknowledge and applaud the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness of mental illness.
Let me begin with some basic facts pertaining to mental illness. According to NAMI, “a mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.” Although, roughly 57.7 million Americans suffer from a mental health disorder, the topic is considered taboo still. Thus, it is necessary to define the term, as many people do not even have an understanding of it.
Some serious mental illnesses include: bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These names may sound familiar, but how much do we actually know given the stereotypes, which usually accompany these diseases?
Contrary to what some may think, mental illnesses do not discriminate. Let me expand. Mental illnesses can affect a person regardless of age, race, income, etc. It does not target a specific “types” of people. With that said, treatment options are available and patients who seek help, often receive the care and attention they need.
As I mentioned before, unfortunately, with mental illnesses there are several stigmas attached. Often, patients are afraid to speak up and for many of those who do share their experiences, they prefer to remain in the shadows or unidentified.
With this Mental Illness Awareness Week, it is crucial to demonstrate the importance of raising awareness. Awareness can lead to empowerment which is a critical step to transforming the misguided beliefs lurking in society.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, don’t be daunted by the misinformed. I know it requires great strength and courage. Still, I encourage you to shatter the stereotypes and take a step toward reshaping the erroneous perceptions of mental illnesses, which exist.
For more information on MIAW, please visit NAMI’s Info Page.