Mental Illness Awareness Week 2019 officially began this week! Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was first established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. As a big fan of NAMI and all they do, I feel they definitely deserve the recognition. They provide a lot of support to individual living with mental illness and their families. Since established by Congress, MIAW has since taken place every year during the first full week of October. In a society where everything now seems to have a day or week (i.e. National Unicorn Day, National Waffle Day, National Paper Bag Day....seriously....), I thought it especially important to start honoring the things that matter. Unicorns make children smile, waffles are delicious, and paper bags help us save on plastic. But, they just don't support under served populations.
This is obviously a topic that matters to me personally and professionally. In order to spread awareness I have prepared 5 social posts highlighting the impact mental illness has on the people struggling with it, on the people who love them, and on society as a whole. You will be able to find these posts on Doane Counseling Service's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest pages. You can find each of those pages located at the very bottom of this blog, if you would like to check them out. Next year I think I will focus on creating posts that combat the stigma and myths surrounding mental illness. But then perhaps I would need a month for that versus a week?
If you would like to help spread the word, make some posts of your own. Sign up for the next NAMI walk in your local area. Or talk to the next person you see who looks a little down. It's not always about developing an awareness of the impact of mental illness. I think it is even more important to take the time to offer the kind of support that help prevent mental illness from developing in the first place. Stress is a huge contributing factor to the development of a mental illness. In turn, social supports for coping are a primary tool for prevention. So offer support to others, maintain your own support system, and work to develop a support system if you don't yet have one.