How to Observe Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week in 2019 is October 6th to October 12th. The U.S. Congress established Mental Illness Awareness Week in 1990. Every year, it takes place on the first full week of October and highlights the efforts of mental health advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

It’s not just NAMI that brings awareness to mental health issues in October; every year, the World Health Organization designates October 10th as World Mental Health Day. October is also National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. It’s appropriate that mental health and substance use awareness campaigns share this overlap. The two issues are deeply connected, and the more we do to raise awareness of mental illness and substance use disorder, the more we will help those who experience both.

Why We Should Be Talking About Mental Health

The numbers alone stress the importance of raising mental health awareness. NAMI provides many statistics about the prevalence of mental illness, its relationship to substance use and its impact on our economy.

  • Each year, one in five Americans experience mental illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • More than half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point during their lifetime.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide; it also increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular and metabolic disease by 40 percent.
  • Each year, mental illness results in $193.2 billion in lost earnings
  • Fifty percent of American adults who experience a mental illness in their lifetime will also experience a substance use disorder.

The stigma of mental illness and the embarrassment people feel about having one are two of the greatest barriers to treatment. This stigma leads to fewer available resources and poorer mental health care. Research suggests that while most people agree that treatment is effective, fewer believe that we are sympathetic to those with mental illnesses. Mental Illness Awareness Week helps us overcome these barriers by encouraging an open discussion of mental illness.

How You Can Participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week

By participating in Mental Illness Awareness Week, we help people with mental illnesses understand that they are not alone, and we offer them much-needed resources to get help. NAMI encourages people to download and share their graphics and resources on social media. We can also help the cause by pushing for better policies on mental health care. Contact your elected representatives to tell them about your experiences and those of your loved ones, or you can simply join NAMI’s movement to influence policymakers.

Talking to loved ones about mental health issues is the most personal and powerful way to make a difference. If you aren’t sure how to start that conversation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers some valuable tips. We make a difference when we reach out to loved ones, listen to them and let them know that help is available.

The Connection Between Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder

Approximately 50 percent of those who experience a mental illness will also experience a substance use disorder. Studies suggest that more than 60 percent of young people in addiction treatment programs meet the criteria for a mental illness. People with mental illness may resort to substance use and create a dangerous cycle in which one disorder feeds another.

Sadly, only half of those with mental illness seek treatment, and this lack of treatment could make substance use disorder more likely. The National Institute on Drug Abuse said that, in 2011, 21.6 million people needed treatment for substance use, yet only 2.3 million received treatment at a specialty substance misuse facility. This “treatment gap” is enormous, but efforts like Mental Illness Awareness Week can help us reduce it.

Contact BRC to Learn About Our Approach to Substance Use Disorder

At BRC Recovery, we understand how deeply connected substance use disorder is with mental health issues. We specialize in helping people who are chronic relapsers and treatment resistant. BRC Recovery believes that real recovery means transforming the mind, body and spirit. When you work with us, you receive continual support and empowerment. Contact BRC Recovery today by calling 1-866-905-4550.