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Help raise mental illness awareness in October

 

When: October 2-8, 2011

What: Mental illness affects the way individuals think, function and feel. Everyone is at risk, regardless of race, age, religion or socio-economic class. Possible recovery and treatment is available for those who seek the help they need, yet there are still numerous cases of mental illness that go unacknowledged. Learning how to diagnose or discover a mental illness may save someone’s life. Take part in Mental Illness Awareness Week from Oct. 2 to 8 to learn more about ways you can help.

Background: The U.S. Congress established Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in 1990 in recognition of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and its efforts. MIAW is held during the first full week in October of every year. The purpose is to encourage communities, affiliates and organizations to raise awareness of mental illness through education, advocacy and outreach.

Story Pitch: The importance and wide scope of MIAW makes it relevant to numerous organizations. Health organizations, medical offices and hospitals can take this time to educate on signs and symptoms, as well as explain the treatments available. Schools and workplaces can also raise awareness, especially of illnesses exacerbated by high stress. Companies can also address overall mental health at this time. Stress, diet, and exercise can all affect mental health, and companies with healthy living products can educate consumers on the link between lifestyle and mental health. Pharmaceutical companies should share what treatments exist for mental illnesses, and can also promote the benefits of medications that target certain disorders. Additionally, psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists have an opportunity to discuss treatment options and how therapy can help those suffering from a mental illness. Groups that assist high-risk populations, such as the homeless or people with a substance abuse problem, can also campaign around this event by creating awareness, breaking down stigmas and seeking out more volunteers.

Story Hook: Approximately one in every 17 Americans is living with a serious mental illness. However, there is a certain stigma that surrounds the topic of mental illness. Some individuals refuse to believe they are being affected and don’t want to classify themselves as sick, while others choose to ignore clear symptoms that occur in their loved ones. As a result, many cases of mental illness often go undiagnosed. How can mental illnesses affect people both directly and indirectly? Keep the following in mind when you make your pitch:

  • What are possible causes of mental illness?
  • What does it mean to have a mental illness? Is it different from physical illness?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of the most common mental illnesses?
  • Which treatments are most likely to cure or help? When should such treatment begin?

Tips:Provide the contact information for someone running a support hotline who can talk about how to deal with people exhibiting signs of mental illness. Lend a human interest aspect to the story by providing contact information for someone suffering from a mental illness.

 

 

Resources:

Active Minds
(202) 332-9595
www.activeminds.org

The American Psychiatric Association
(888) 357-7924
apa(at)psych.org
www.healthyminds.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness
(703) 524-7600
www.nami.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s ADS Center
(800) 540-0320
promoteacceptance(at)samhsa.hhs.gov
www.stopstigma.samhsa.gov

–Researched, compiled & written by Eleni Stylianou
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