Organizations around the country are using the first week of October to honor Mental Illness Awareness Week and raise awareness of mental health, which affects approximately a quarter of adults in the U.S.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and make it difficult for these individuals to perform everyday tasks. Each individual will have a different experience, even if they share the same diagnosis.
Remove the Stigma
Unfortunately, mental illness is often viewed in a negative light. Many individuals who suffer from mental illness are afraid to discuss it with family or friends, as they are afraid of being judged or looked down upon. By discussing mental health, you are raising awareness and helping boost the confidence of those suffering – you could also be saving a life.
Speaking openly about mental illness is not the only way to raise awareness. You can also educate yourself and learn the facts. One of the best ways to remove the stigma of mental illness is to understand what it is and what it is not. Understanding mental illness makes it easier to learn how to help those suffering, and also allows you an opportunity to speak up if someone expresses a stigmatizing attitude or opinion.
Speak with dignity and respect when discussing mental illness. Choose your words carefully, use respectful language, emphasize abilities rather than limitations, and refer to the person rather than the disability or illness.
Take a Stance
At AltaMed, we strive to fight the stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. If you or someone you know may need a mental health assessment, anonymous online tools are available on the NAMI website. You can also join NAMI’s StigmaFree campaign by taking a pledge in the effort to end stigmas on mental health and create hope for those directly affected by mental illness.