October 4 – 11 has been designated Mental Illness Awareness Week and approximately 1 in 5 people live with a mental illness in the United States. That’s as many people who subscribe to Netflix in the U.S.
Mental Illness awareness week celebrates mental illness recovery and provides our communities a way to inspire and support those who have struggled or are still struggling with mental illness. ‘I am Stigma Free’ is this year’s theme. Being Stigma free means learning about and educating others on mental illness.
It’s important to see those with mental illness as individuals and not a diagnosis. A diagnosis isn’t the end-all, be-all of the condition and each disease or disorder plays out in different ways to different people. Don’t label individuals if they have a disorder; “They’re ADHD” or “They’re depressed”. Individuals with mental illness shouldn’t be labeled by their diagnosis, it doesn’t honor their qualities and uniqueness as a person.
Looking for ways to build mental illness awareness? Talk about it. Connect with your community and take the StigmaFree pledge at the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) website.
Northwest Health Services will also build awareness by offering free depression screening toolkits on October 8th for National Depression Screening Day. Anyone who comes to our Behavioral Health Clinic at 2303 Village Drive in St. Joseph, MO can receive the free screening toolkit – no appointment necessary.
Kathryn Worland, MSW, LCSW is the Director of Behavioral Health Services and Patient-Centered Medical Home at Northwest Health Services. Kathryn writes blogs for Northwest Health on behavioral health issues.