Mental health is an important part of one’s well-being. However, talking about or taking care of one’s mental health isn’t always easy. Due to stigma and misconceptions surrounding therapy, much of the population has trouble admitting they need any help or support, causing their mental health to suffer further as a result.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is a time to check in on loved ones, learn about how mental conditions and disorders can affect people, and spread awareness about the truth of mental health and mental health care. By spreading awareness about mental health issues and care, we can all work to better understand and help ourselves as well as others.
Is October Mental Health Awareness Week?
Mental Illness Awareness Week is in October—the first week of October, to be exact. This year, it will fall on October 1st through 7th. The observance was started in 1990 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and established as a nationwide tradition by Congress with the purpose of normalizing mental health conditions and destigmatizing mental health care.
Is It Mental Illness Awareness Month?
There is a Mental Health Awareness Month, but it actually occurs earlier in the year during the month of May. There’s also a Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month that occurs every June, as well as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July.
Like Mental Illness Awareness Week, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to take a moment and learn about different mental health conditions, spread awareness about the impact of mental health issues, and care for yourself and your own mental health.
What Is the Theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023?
The official theme for this year’s observance of Mental Illness Awareness Week is “anxiety.” this means that NAMI encourages you to look specifically at the symptoms, prevalence, and impact of anxiety on the population, as well as how you can treat your own anxiety and stress.
It’s important to note that, though everyone experiences different levels of anxiety throughout their lives, there is a difference between the feeling of anxiety and clinically significant symptoms of anxiety that are present with anxiety disorders. It’s important to learn to manage your own anxiety, but it’s also useful to learn about how anxiety disorders can affect those who have them.
The Importance of Mental Illness Awareness Week
Mental Illness Awareness Week is an important occasion, both for those in the mental health field and those outside of it. Mental health affects everyone, and despite its unique impact on each person and their quality of life, many still believe that mental health care is unimportant or a sign of personal weakness.
By participating in observances like Mental Illness Awareness Week, we can start breaking down the negativity and stigma and helping people live better, more fulfilling lives. Being vulnerable enough to ask for help and seek a happier life takes courage, strength, and self-awareness, and the more people find that courage, the better this world will be.
How Do You Celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week? How to Participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week
There are a number of ways to participate in and celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week. Some of the most common examples of participation include:
Promoting Mental Health Education and Advocacy
Doing your own research and learning about mental health issues is a great way to participate, but you can also share what you’ve found and learned with others. Encourage those you know to take time to learn about different disorders or conditions, or even how they can take better care of their mental health.
It’s also important to stand up and advocate for people who struggle with these disorders and find themselves facing stereotypes and stigma due to their condition and symptoms. If you hear or see people making incorrect assumptions and comments about mental health struggles, consider commenting some resources and facts to the contrary.
Reducing Stigma and Encouraging Support
During Mental Illness Awareness Week—or any other time of the year—consider reaching out to friends or loved ones and checking up on them: Ask them how life is and make it clear that you’re here to have a real and genuine conversation. It’s not always clear when people are struggling mentally or emotionally, even when they want love and support.
Though not always, this can be a result of stigma around mental health and the pressure placed on people to “take care” of things themselves. Sometimes, speaking to others about your own struggles with mental health can show others that it’s okay to talk about mental health and admit that they need help. You can try to open a simple discourse with someone close to you about mental health and the benefits of professional help.
Donating to Mental Health Organizations
You can also participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week by donating your time or money to a worthy mental health organization. There are multiple organizations that operate across the U.S. like NAMI, but it’s worth doing some research and looking into more specialized organizations or ones local to your area. Find a cause you’re interested in, such as women’s mental health or ADHD awareness, and find an organization doing work in that area.
Spreading Awareness on Social Media
Whether it’s sharing a personal story about mental health, assorted information about different disorders compiled by a qualified source, or a list of possible resources for information about mental health and mental healthcare, posting and sharing on social media is a great way to spread information about mental health to people that might not otherwise see it.
Attending Events and Workshops
If there are any events going on near you for Mental Illness Awareness Week, these can be a great place to learn more about mental health issues and connect with organizations in your area.
There are also online and sometimes in-person workshops put on by NAMI, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or even local colleges and universities that you can attend. These can occur year-round and are an excellent way to learn more about mental health conditions and disorders.
Resources for Mental Health Support
As stated above, NAMI is an excellent source of information and other resources. Here is a list of other resources that operate and are accessible throughout the U.S.:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)
Hotlines and Helplines
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine
If you or someone close to you is experiencing a mental health crisis and are in immediate danger of causing harm to themselves or others, please call 911. For crisis scenarios that are not imminently dangerous or for general mental health support, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
These are great resources for information and short-term mental health support, but for effective long-term mental health care, the best thing to do is start therapy and get connected with a mental health professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist. These professionals can provide you with specified care that is tailored to your personal conditions and concerns.