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National Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 2-8, 2016

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

April 9, 2019

The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) addresses concerns that each year millions of people face mental illness or mental health conditions. National Mental Illness Awareness Week is in place to raise awareness about mental illness and to, “fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care,” as stated by NAMI. This movement gains following and strength every year.

This year’s National Mental Illness Awareness Week will take place from October 2-8, just as it does yearly, during the first full week of October. Perhaps one of the more important outcomes NAMI hopes to achieve through a week dedicated to mental illness awareness is to remove the negative stigma associated with mental illness and to replace it with certainty of hope. Highlighting mental health issues during a specific week allows those affected to come together, share, and support each other. People struggling with mental illness will also be surrounded by those working to offer dedication and support to the awareness cause.

What You Can Do To Help: Raising Awareness

There are several ways to get involved in raising awareness for mental illness, to offer support, and to contribute to ending the stigma. Some of these ways include raising awareness individually, in a group, or as a larger part of your community. To start, NAMI advocates taking a stigma-free pledge. Values of the pledge include:

  • Promising to learn more about mental health
  • To see the person, not the illness
  • To listen and attempt to understand
  • Taking action by spreading knowledge of mental illness (raising awareness)

This pledge is offered as a way for people to come together to raise hope, to demonstrate and foster acceptance, and to dispel negative social stereotypes associated with mental illness. To take the NAMI pledge and join the campaign, visit NAMI’s website.

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What You Can Do To Help: Advocating For Mental Illness

While raising awareness of mental illness is important, advocating for change is equally important. NAMI works to promote equality, and to strive for better care and representation for people affected by mental illness. To join these efforts, subscribe to NAMI advocacy alerts.

But your involvement does not have to stop there. You can seek ways to foster change in your community. NAMI suggests the following examples of ways to help promote change at the local level:

  • Request that your mayor or governor recognize a proclamation for National Mental Illness Awareness Week; you can download a proclamation online.
  • Take part in advocacy; policy change is a large part of promoting change for people struggling with mental illness and their families.
  • Advocate to “Go Green.” Another way to show support is to light up your work building, home, or sign, etc., with green.
  • Bridge cultural gaps. Some cultural beliefs/practices may make mental illness a difficult topic for discussion or sharing. Offer personal support to close that gap, or outsource help from other resources, such as NAMI’s Sharing Hope.
  • Reach out to teens. Many mental health conditions begin early, although teens often are not getting the help they need.
  • Utilize your Faith. Faith can have a great effect on persons struggling with mental illness. Find ways to connect through faith, such as remembering those lost to mental illness.

What You Can Do To Help: Taking Action

Are you, perhaps, more interested in taking a hands-on approach to advocating? There are also many ways to raise awareness through small projects. To name a few ideas listed by NAMI, you could: 1) hand out green ribbons for people to wear, displaying awareness; 2) create a display of books on mental health or mental illness/conditions at a local bookstore or library (with permission); 3) share information by handing out brochures with factual information at places in your neighborhood; or 4) look for places close to you which offer times to host creative events, and create an event with mental health information as the focus.

Another approach is becoming a volunteer. NAMI has several branches, both at the state and national levels. You can sign up for NAMI training or even volunteer with the helpline. If you are great at fundraising, you could also host a fundraising event at the local level in support of NAMI and Mental Illness Awareness Week, or host a NAMI Walk or Run.

Seeking Treatment For Mental Illness

So many people today are struggling with mental illness and not nearly enough of those people are getting the proper treatment they need. Mental Illness Awareness Week helps to educate people about mental illness, to support persons affected by mental illness, and to advocate for change. If you or someone you know has been touched by mental illness, do not hesitate to contact us today. We have a caring team at, trained to listen, find available options, and direct you to the best method for your condition.

National Alliance On Mental Illness– Become A Leader In The Mental Health Movement
National Alliance On Mental Illness– Mental Illness Awareness Week
National Alliance On Mental Illness– What Can I Do?

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