In 1990, the US Congress declared the first week in October Mental Illness Awareness Week, recognizing NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during this time to celebrate the progress made in putting a stop to stigma, and advocating for support for treatment and recovery. It is also a great opportunity for local affiliates such as NAMI Far North to strengthen its outreach, education and advocacy efforts.
To commemorate MIAW 2010, NAMI Far North is distributing information about mental illness through various community communications channels, with a focus on the national theme of ‘Changing Attitudes. Changing Lives.’ We believe that as the general public is made aware of the neurobiological nature of mental illness, and acquires a more accurate and compassionate understanding of the capabilities and limitations of individuals who live with these disorders, fear and ignorance will decrease, leading to a reduction in the stigma surrounding mental illness. As attitudes about mental illness change, so will the lives of all of us – including those who live with mental illness.
Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery that will raise YOUR awareness:
Serious mental illnesses affect 1 in 17 Americans, and exist in 1 in 5 families. Mental Illness is a disease like any other. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Treatment works for most people living with mental illness, and an array of services and supports including access to appropriate medication and peer-support service are necessary to ensure recovery.
Untreated mental illness results in a negative financial and social impact to police, educators, emergency rooms, and businesses. Cost-effective, proven treatment and services exist that not only support recovery for people living with mental illness but also ensure the health of America's communities and families. Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, and suicide. The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States.
Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. The most serious and disabling conditions affect five to ten million adults and three to five million children ages nine to seventeen in the United States. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the world. By 2020, Major Depressive Illness will be the world’s leading cause of disability for women and children.
The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports. Early identification and treatment is of vital importance. By getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is possible.
From “Grading the States, A Report on America’s Health Care System for Serious Mental Illness.” (NAMI 2006)
Become aware of the facts about mental illness and celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week with NAMI Far North October 3 – 9, 2010.
See the Mental Illness Awareness Week Poster below for further information.
Mental Illness Awareness Week Poster
September 29, 2010 Bonner County Daily Bee - Week Raises Awareness About Mental Illness
September 26, 2010 Spokesman Review - More Services for Mentally Ill Thanks to NAMI Far North