The National Alliance on Mental Illness announces that Oct. 2-8 is “National Mental Illness Awareness Week.”
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since 1990, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first full week of October to bring attention to the issue of mental illness.
For centuries the very thought of discussing mental illness, let alone bringing it into the public eye, would have been unthinkable. Yet, we at NAMI ask people everywhere to start the conversation without fear or shame. However, I understand how hard this all can be.
I think that we all need to be reminded that mental illnesses are part of the human condition. In fact, it is estimated that 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. Not only are these adults affected by one mental illness, but 45 percent of these adults meet criteria for two or more disorders. Despite the large number of Americans affected by such disorders, stigma surrounding mental illness is a major barrier that prevents people from seeking the mental health treatment that they need. Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the world. Therefore, it demands our earnest attention.
Most people with mental illness live as anyone else and most of the time their suffering is within themselves. It is unfortunate that the term “mental illness” seems to conjure up all sorts of bizarre stereotypes. A prevalent myth about people with mental illness is that they are dangerous people. This is untrue. The case for violence among the mentally ill is only slightly higher than the general population.
What causes mental illness?
Mental illnesses are disorders of brain biology. It is this failed biology which is responsible for these illnesses. These disorders are not caused by anyone’s neglect. They are not anyone’s fault and are not a reflection of a personal weakness. Therefore, seeking help should not be cause for shame. Please understand that people with serious mental illnesses can have recovery with proper treatment. Please remember, it takes a whole community to see that people find this recovery.
What is a mental illness?
Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain which affect mood, thoughts and behaviors.
Symptoms can include anxiety, sadness, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, movement disorders, flat affect, social withdrawal, and cognitive deficits.
It is our hope that the day will come when people can speak about these disorders and seek treatment without the fear of being stigmatized.
What can our community do to increase awareness?
-Education is paramount. We have information literally at our fingertips. Take some time this month to do some reading. I would also suggest that you watch the movie “A Beautiful Mind.”
-Please support the mental health renewal levy this November 8.
-Please remember: It will take all of us to stop the stigma, promote acceptance and create awareness!
The following is a list of some of the most common mental health conditions:
Signs & Symptoms
•Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
•Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
•Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
•Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious medical illness that causes shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe.
•Signs & Symptoms
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings from overly “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects about 1.1 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them. These experiences can make them fearful and withdrawn and cause difficulties when they try to have relationships with others.
If you are concerned that someone you love or care about may be having a mental health crisis, please call the Crisis Hotline 1 800 224-0422.
If you would like to know more about NAMI, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937 750-1702.
If you would like information about Recovery Zone contact Ross Cunningham at 937 508-5099.
If you would like to know more about the NAMI Connection support program contact Karla Smith at 937 508-5591.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the “Nations Voice on Mental Illness.” The NAMI mission is to help improve the quality of life for those affected by mental illnesses through education and support programs.