Honoring Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020
Here at Self Care Is For Everyone, we strive to promote mental illness awareness year-round, and to continue helping shatter the harmful stigma that comes with mental illness and the experience of living with a mental illness. But this is an extra special week, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), when advocates and organizations and brands come together to instill even more power into mental illness awareness!
Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place every year during the first full week of October, this year running from Sunday, October 4th, through Saturday, October 10th. It’s a week of not only raising awareness, but of educating the public and those that misunderstand what living with a mental illness is like. Living with a mental illness is an experience that is so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but when we come together and use our resources and our voices, we’re able to shine light on living with mental illness and raise the level of awareness and compassion for the individuals who spend their lives in the midst of these sometimes debilitating, always challenging, illnesses.
In an effort to spread this educational experience to people who have never lived with mental illness and may be unable to understand what it can be like, this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week theme is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” The goal of this year’s theme is to share stories of living with mental illness in a way that allows the public into those lives, allowing them to truly see the individuals with mental illness for the human beings they are, despite living with a mental illness, and see the impact that mental illness can have on their lives.
Mental illness stigma can be incredibly harmful and painful, and often label those who live with mental illness many different hurtful things. Not only is the stigma that still exists hurtful, it’s often difficult to not eventually begin believing it about yourself after hearing it for so long. This is incredibly detrimental to the individual’s quality of life, confidence, and growth as they move through life wearing these labels. We have the power to come together and work to dismantle this stigma that deeply affects the lives of one in five people who live with mental illness. Here are some ways you can help support Mental Illness Awareness Week:
Share awareness content.Reposting and sharing mental illness awareness content throughout the week (and the rest of the year!) can help spread education, resources, and information to those who need it. Be sure to share with the “share” button on Facebook and the airplane feature on Instagram in order to tag and link to the original poster!
Wear the mental illness awareness color.The color for mental illness awareness matches the color for Mental Health Awareness Month, which is green! Try adding a green ribbon to some of your social media posts during the week or wearing green in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, or using green in other ways that can start conversations!
Start hard conversations. Speaking of starting conversations, part of raising awareness and breaking stigma is having those difficult conversations openly in a way that addresses others’ misunderstandings about living with mental illness. You can make a big difference by being part of these challenging conversations and opening up the dialogue to explore what mental illness is, how it affects individuals, and what living with it can be like.
Share your story. One of the most courageous things you can do to break stigma and advocate for mental illness is to share your story! The more people are able to realize that those they love, those they have friendships with, those they work with, those they know indirectly, live with mental illness, the more they learn that it doesn’t change who a person is or define who a person is. If you feel comfortable, sharing your story can be a powerful way to reach those in your circles and help open up their awareness of mental illness and how it affects people’s lives.
Honor these dates within Mental Illness Awareness Week. There are several special dates within Mental Illness Awareness Week to honor, whether that means you create a post about them for your social media, share about them with someone you know, or take another action that honors the day in a different way.
Tuesday, October 6th: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. This is a day to say a prayer for, send positive thoughts out into the universe, or meditate on those in mental illness recovery. Take a moment out of your day to spread some positive vibes, in whichever way feels comfortable and true to you, for those working through the journey of recovery from mental illness.
Thursday, October 8th: National Depression Screening Day.This is an important day to honor as it not only can help identify someone who may be struggling with depression, but in the long term this is also a form of suicide prevention, due to the common presence of depression in those individuals who complete suicide. Screening for depression and identifying its presence is the first step to treating it and taking back an individual’s life from the darkness that living with depression is. This is a day to help someone you know with a depression screening, providing support for them, or possibly take a depression screening yourself, if you are feeling you may be at risk. You can find an online screening tool here.
Saturday, October 10th: World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day honors mental health around the world, our brothers and sisters globally who struggle with their mental health alongside us. We all hold each other’s hands and create an empowering bond as we step forward together, raising awareness and working toward wellness.
Saturday, October 10th: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope. This is a beautiful day to spread hope for those who live with mental illness. This can mean encouraging a friend, writing a letter of hope to yourself in your journal, or joining one of NAMI’s in-person or virtual walks across the country. Visit https://www.namiwalks.org/ to find a walk even near you.
Since 1990, when congress declared Mental Illness Awareness Week, we have come together to fight stigma and spread awareness each year. Let’s do our part to make 2020 an amazing year of education, encouragement, and compassion. We’re empowered when we work together to advocate, and we’re here to join you in your efforts to help those living with mental illness move into a future of more understanding, less stigma, and so much hope.