(ABC4) The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is hosting a series of events related to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) which runs from October 3 to 9. The purpose is to stave off the stigma of mental illness through a series of events meant to provide support and raise awareness of issues surrounding mental illness.
There can be some confusion as to what mental illness and mental health is. The Mayo Clinic defines mental illness, or mental health disorders, as “disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior.” Some examples include depression, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and addictive disorders like eating disorders.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Their website says on the topic, “a person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.”
The events for MIAW 2021 are as follows:
- Tuesday, Oct. 5: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
- Thursday, Oct. 7: National Depression Screening Day
- Saturday, Oct. 9: NAMIWalks United Day of Hope
- Sunday, Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
During MAWI 2021, special topics and personal stories will be featured on the NAMI website and on social media as part of the week’s events.
The MAWI website also features stories from individuals talking about what they wish people knew about their experiences with mental illness.
“The one thing I wish that people knew about anxiety is that it’s not something that someone can control,” Krishna Louise, a youth lead presenter for NAMI, said during a video presentation in 2020. “For me, it’s a constant struggle with my mind to try and control it.”
Andrea Landry discussed what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder daily, experiencing random racing thoughts during brief periods of her day.
“It could be a million thoughts in a five-second span,” she said.
Ashlynn Mcneely is a psychiatric nurse who previously served in the Air Force. She says she’s worked with NAMI and has borderline personality disorder.
“I feel everything so intensely,” she said, “It’s like having a thin skin.” Despite that, McNeely says she’s a fiancé and lives “a vibrant life.”