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October 4 to 10, 2020
The fall months signal a change in the weather, the coming holidays, and an end to yet another year. This time can be especially difficult for many people though.
There’s the stress and expectation of family gatherings, or feelings of isolation brought about by a lack of social interaction during a season when everyone, on the surface, appears to be spending the season with friends and family.
So, as a bridge to the winter months, October is the perfect time to observe Mental Illness Awareness Week and National Depression Screening Day.
Taking care of our mental health, while helping others do the same, can be vital for a positive transition into the new year.
How Common is Mental Illness?
The truth about mental illness in the United States is that it’s incredibly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Half of the population – a full 50 percent – will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime
- Mental illness, conditions like depression and anxiety and addiction, are the third most common cause for hospitalization among adults aged 18 to 44
- On average, people living with serious, untreated mental health conditions lose their lives 25 years earlier than their family members or friends
Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 4 to 10, 2020
Mental illness awareness week is held the first full week of October, when organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) join others to educate society about the prevalence of mental illness and to provide support for those in need. This year, NAMI’s theme is CureStigma.
“We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Health Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice,” is the message NAMI emphasizes on its website.
Other groups, like Mental Health American and the National Eating Disorder Association, join the chorus to shine a spotlight on just how many people are suffering and how communities, neighbors and civic leaders can identify the signs of mental illness, as well as what they can do help those in need.
National Depression Screening Day
October 8, 2020
Though it’s often underreported, major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Anyone who has experienced the symptoms of depression or has had a loved one that suffered through it understands how this condition affects not just the victim, but also everyone else around them.
For 25 years, National Depression Screening Day has raised awareness and educated people about depression during mental illness week. These events are hosted on military bases, college campuses and with community-based organizations.
At each venue, volunteers offer an optional screening opportunity for anyone who wants it.
For a more private and anonymous depression screening, the group Screening for Mental Health provides on online resource called Help Yourself. Help Others.
Left untreated, symptoms from anxiety, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can often grow worse because people suffering from depressive conditions will often medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol.
In some cases, a person suffering from alcoholism might not even understand they’re also battling depression. They just feel out of control and lost.
Before the crush of office parties, family gatherings and holiday demands take front and center, use October as a month to learn about the signs of depression and mental illness.
Volunteer at events that raise awareness and, most importantly, to take care of personal mental health and wellness.