Mental Illness Awareness Week


Logo from National Alliance for Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mental_illness_awareness_week
Logo from National Alliance for Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=mental_illness_awareness_week

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), around one in four adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness each year – that’s about 61.5 million people. Furthermore, one in 17 adults is living with a serious mental illness like major depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. Given these statistics, it’s likely that mental illness affects the majority of us in some way. Yet, it’s a topic that is often misrepresented or ignored altogether in the media and within our society as a whole.

To work towards changing this, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) was created in 1990 – Each year, the first full week of October (this year, October 5-11) is designated as MIAW. So that’s happening next week! You might be wondering: what exactly is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and how can I get involved? Keep reading for answers to these questions.

NAMI explains that during Mental Illness Awareness Week, “we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care.” As NAMI’s definition states, fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness is one of the main objectives of MIAW. According to a study done among students at UNC, 11.3% of Carolina students surveyed said they agreed with the following statement: I would think less of someone who has received mental health treatment. Furthermore, 19% of students surveyed agreed with this statement: I feel that receiving mental health treatment is a sign of personal failure.

As these statistics show, stigma surrounding mental illness in our community is a real issue. For more information on stigma and how to combat it, check out Stigma Free Carolina – a group on campus working to fight stigma and raise awareness about mental health issues in the UNC community.

"People in the summertime," by Gonzalo G. Useta, Flickr Creative Commons
“People in the summertime,” by Gonzalo G. Useta, Flickr Creative Commons

There are a bunch of great events happening at UNC for Mental Illness Awareness Week – if you’re interested in learning more, get involved with some of these opportunities! Here’s a schedule of events for MIAW (and beyond):

  • Mental Health awareness event in the Pit – sponsored by Stigma Free Carolina
    • October 3, 2014 from 12:00-2:00pm
    • Location: the Pit
    • Trivia questions and prizes!
  • Rethink Psychiatric Illness training – sponsored by Stigma Free Carolina
    • October 4, 2014 from 2:00-6:00pm
    • Location: Student Union, room 2423
    • Register here
  • Redefining Mental Health panel discussion sponsored by Stigma Free Carolina
    • October 6, 2014 from 5:30-7:00pm
    • Location: Carolina Inn
    • Register here
  • Interactive Theater Carolina performance on mental health issues
    • October 7, 2014 from 6:00-7:30pm
    • Location: Student Union, room 3203
    • Register here
  • Mental Health 101 training
    • October 9, 2014 from 6:00-8:00pm
    • Location: Student Union, room 3408
    • Refreshments served!
    • Register here
  • Rethink Psychiatric Illness training
    • October 25, 2014 from 12:00-4:00pm
    • November 8, 2014 from 2:00-6:00pm
    • Register here

For more information on mental health services on campus, including individual and group counseling, check out UNC’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

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