Mental Illness Awareness Week Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread. That is why each year, during the first week of October, NAMI and participants across the country raise awareness of mental illness. Each year, we educate the public, fight stigma and provide support. And each year, our movement grows stronger. We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.