Each year, during the first week of October, we join NAMI, other mental health organizations and agencies, and individuals and families working to improve mental health care and services for our loved ones and communities for Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). You may not know that NAMI is the organization behind the week. In 1990, led by NAMI efforts to help individuals and families impacted by serious mental illness, Congress officially established the first full week of October as MIAW.
During the week—and on World Mental Health Day October 10—we join fellow advocates in working together on efforts and activities to educate the public about mental health conditions and what we can do to manage their impacts on all of us. We come together as one unified voice. This year’s Mental Illness Awareness Month focus: “Together We Care. Together We Share.”
Togetherness is a good word to describe what drives us and it’s a good time to reflect on NAMI’s history and standing. It started with a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979. At that time, some doctors blamed parents for their children’s mental health conditions. Families came together to fight for better treatment options, research, and to offer one another support.
NAMI is now the nation’s leading voice on mental health, and we are proud to be part of NAMI’s alliance of more than 600 local affiliates and 49 state organizations working in our communities to raise awareness. We know first-hand how much our work helps individuals and families in our community.
We do all of this together. “You are not alone” is a message we share often with good reason. We come together in support groups, classes and at community events to share our stories and to offer and receive help. Together we share our stories to help one another. Together we care about a better future for those impacted by mental illness. We do this by supporting one another and advocating for change. We understand that this requires raising more awareness, fighting discrimination, and advocating for better policies to support our communities. During MIAW, our voices become a chorus. We hope you will join us and share stories, resources and support. See our ”7 Days, 7 Ways to Make a Difference this Mental Illness Awareness Week” for ideas here.