Observing Mental Illness Awareness Week
Each year, millions of people worldwide struggle with various aspects of their mental health. Because mental health issues are so widespread in America, you may have friends, neighbors, co-workers and even family members living with illnesses like depression, PTSD and anxiety. You could also be dealing with mental health challenges of your own, or perhaps wondering if you could benefit from working with a professional therapist or counselor.
Every year, the National Alliance for Mental Illness and its supporters recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week in the first week of October. Though the need to support and encourage people with mental health concerns persists year-round, having one dedicated week to bring these issues to the forefront of our national conversation is beneficial to keep educating the public and continuing to make progress. What can you do to observe Mental Illness Awareness Week 2021?
1. Educate Yourself to End the Stigma
We tend to imagine that mental illness only happens to people who make poor life decisions, but the reality is that people with various mental illnesses are all around us. Like other chronic diseases, mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of their education, beliefs, abilities or socioeconomic status.
Even if mental illnesses don’t result in any outward physical symptoms, they are genuine health concerns – not affectations or phases that people can snap out of. If someone you care about tells you that they have a mental health disorder, practice compassion and listen to what they have to say about their experiences. If they aren’t already in therapy, encourage them to get help. You could even offer to research providers or drive them to therapy appointments.
2. Volunteer in Your Community
One excellent way to participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week is to volunteer with a suicide hotline or another organization that helps people in crisis discover hope and healing. Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness characterize many mental health conditions, such as depression and bipolar disorder. At their lowest point, some people may even begin believing the world is better off without them. In these circumstances, you could save a life by giving someone who has reached rock bottom a reason to keep going.
3. Take a Mental Health Day
The U.S. is one of the most overworked countries worldwide, and many people feel guilty about taking days off when they feel under the weather. This constant pressure leads to burnout and chronic stress. The only way to change this culture is to start normalizing the idea of time off from work as a form of self-care.
If your schedule allows, schedule a day or more away from work, and politely let your colleagues know that you won’t be available to respond to emails, phone calls, etc., while you’re out. Use the time to focus specifically on your mental well-being, with healthy activities like meditation, massages, doing yoga and spending time in nature. You can return to work refreshed and ready to rededicate yourself to your tasks.
4. Ask for Help When You Need It
Because mental illness remains so stigmatized, many people who regularly feel anxious, depressed or on edge believe they can’t tell anyone else about it. Thinking you must struggle in silence is not conducive to your well-being or those around you. Keep a journal of your symptoms from day to day, so you can analyze your changing feelings. This Mental Illness Awareness Week, talk to friends and family members if you are dealing with an ongoing sadness you can’t seem to shake, or if your symptoms are interfering with your quality of life.
Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Go Hand in Hand
In many cases, mental illness co-occurs with a substance use disorder, and treating these two conditions simultaneously is essential for getting your life moving in a positive direction. At Beach House, we provide the gold standard in dual-diagnosis treatment for adults living with co-occurring disorders. Our secluded beachfront recovery community is an ideal place to start regaining your overall health during Mental Illness Awareness Week or any other time of the year. Contact our admissions team to learn more.