October 6-10th is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Mental illness in the media is often portrayed as people who are “off their rocker” as the word “crazy” often has a negative stigma. But National Mental Health Awareness week is trying to change all that with research, advocacy, and activities that can be done in your community to promote a healthier view on mental illness and how it impacts our nation.
In 2012, the National Institute of Mental Health did a study and found that 18.6 percent of adults (43.7 million) in America had some kind of mental illness. The groups with the highest risk were found the be females, people from 26-49, and those of American Indian heritage and Alaskan natives. A further study found that 20% of adolescents from the age of 13-17 have also been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. With mental illness affecting a fifth of both or adult and adolescent population, it is crucial to fight the stigma and get more help for those struggling with mental illness.
It is easy to get involved during National Mental Health week. The National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests any of the following: run feature stories in the local newspapers of those willing to share their experience with mental illness, hold a depression screening event, donate mental health books to libraries, create bookstore displays, or have a benefit concert.
One of the most popular events is the NAMIWalk in support of raising money for mental illness. Lafayette held it’s most recent walk on October 4th, and New Orleans is sponsoring one on October 11th. It’s the perfect opportunity to get fit for a good cause. For more information, go to their website, http://www.namiwalks.org/.
Whether you’re supporting a friend, family member, or just peoples’ human right to not be judged by their illness, make sure you get involved in National Mental Health Awareness week.