As much as we focus on physical ailments that can be seen on MRIs, CTs, or other radiology imaging, there are also illnesses that aren't as easily recognized. Just because these illnesses can't be tested as quantitatively as others doesn't mean they are any less important, although sometimes patients with these illnesses don't feel as important or validated. One of the biggest groups of patients who feel this way is the community of people with mental illnesses.
Turns out, about 1 in 5 Americans are living with a (or multiple) mental health condition(s) like Depression, Anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and Autism (just to name a few). In order to fight the stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for equal care for these individuals, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) started Mental Illness Awareness Week which takes place during the first week of October (October 2-8, this year). Year round, but especially during this week, their purpose and mission is to shine a light on mental illness and have others join the movement by spreading the word and participating in various awareness activities.
What can you do?
Take the Pledge
One of the biggest ways NAMI encourages others to get involved and join the movement is by taking the pledge. By taking the pledge to be "stigmafree", you join the campaign to turn the stigma against mental illness into hope. You can learn more and take the pledge here.
Books to Read
Since sharing stories about the lives and struggles of of those living with mental illnesses can be a powerful experience, NAMI encourages others to read books about these stories to bring awareness to themselves and others. Some of these books include "The Girl From Human Street" by Roger Cohen, "The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness" by Liza Long, and "I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help" by Xavier Amador, but there are many others that can be found here.
Movies to Watch
Just like books can provide an eye-opening experience to the lives of those struggling with mental illnesses, movies can provide a similar experience. Movies can be great depictions of what these illnesses looks like in real-life and can help the audience understand and be more aware mental illness. Some of the movies that are recommended are "Touched With Fire", "Frankie & Alice", and "Silver Linings Playbook", but more can be found here.
These are three super easy ways to get involved in Mental Illness Awareness Week this week, so whether you're taking the pledge, picking up a new read, or watching Netflix, you will be helping the MIAW and NAMI movement. Spread the word by starting the conversation with your peers, sharing our blog, or by reading more on NAMI's website.