The best way to end the stigma is to raise awareness! The more we know, the more we understand, empathize, and rally to support. Our society tends to set hard and fast rules for what is “normal,” and if you find yourself outside of that societal standard, you will feel the stigma, discrimination, or isolation from society. During Mental Illness Awareness Week, our primary goal is to end the stigma associated with mental illness and increase awareness of this widespread disease, and the debilitating effects suffered.
Understanding the Impact
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was established by Congress in 1990 to increase awareness and end the stigma of mental illness through national educational efforts. To put this in perspective, one in four, or 26.2% of Americans over 18 years of age, are diagnosable with a mental illness. Of those, 40% are believed to suffer from at least two or more disorders. These range from fairly common mood disorders to much more severe disorders, including major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia. We also understand that due to the stigma of mental illness, these numbers may range significantly higher. As a country, nearly every American is either directly or indirectly affected by mental illness.
Making a Difference
The only way we can make a change in mental illness and awareness is through education! The more you know, the more you understand, the more you empathize, and the more you fight for change. When you are battling an enemy as big as mental illness, you need a dynamic warrior on your side to lead the battle.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the right warrior to fight the battle and end the stigma of mental illness. NAMI is the preeminent mental illness advocacy organization in the US leading the fight every day. They are the organization that spearheaded and advocated for Mental Illness Awareness Week, partnering with our Congress to make a change. Since 1990, they have fought to increase awareness and reduce the stigma in a prolific grassroots effort. They not only educate, but they support mental illness efforts on local, regional, and national platforms.
The theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” During the week, NAMI will amplify the voices of those who have the experience to speak to the conditions and symptoms that are most misunderstood.
EDK is proud to support the efforts of NAMI through outreach and awareness events. Our CEO Endrea Kosven is a volunteer board member with NAMI San Fernando Valley, and we’ve seen the difference this organization makes through their advocacy and education. For more information, please visit NamiGLAC.org.