I spent this Sunday partaking in what practically 50% of Americans are fans of: watching pro football. I looked in awe at the stylishly bright, slick, and sporty pink athletic gear that each team member wore in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I wished that Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5-11, 2014) received just as much media and support.
For me, Mental Illness Awareness Week means promoting empathy rather than sympathy. With empathy comes understanding and lessening of stigma. Even as a psychiatrist, there are times when I feel awkward asking friends about depression, so I can imagine how difficult it might be for anyone to openly discuss and start a conversation about mental illness. But keep in mind that mental illness is far more prevalent than you may think:
– 1 in 4 U.S. adults suffer from mental illness
– 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressants
– Almost 50% of children ages 8-15 with a mental illness received NO treatment last year
Yet, despite how prevalent it is, suffering from mental illness is often lonely and isolating and nobody should have to feel that way.
So what can YOU do?
– Go Green! Wear lime green this week to serve as a reminder and trigger discussion among others about raising awareness and destigmatizing mental illness
– check out the Nami website to learn more facts about mental illness, treatment, and resources
– try to lend support rather than avoid. If you sense that someone you know is struggling, please check in on them. It sounds so simple, but you can make a difference and potentially save someone’s life
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Share one thing you did this week to show your support (post in comments below)!