Mental Illness Awareness Week

miaw blog pic
Mental Illness Awareness Week 2015!

Yesterday kicked off Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which is always the first full week in October each year. The goal of MIAW is to raise awareness around the topic of mental health, educate the public, and advocate for mental health issues. This year, the theme of MIAW is #IAmStigmaFree. National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that “Being Stigma Free means learning about and educating others on mental illness, focusing on connecting with people to see each other as individuals and not a diagnosis.” Additionally, this year they running the #IAmStigmaFree campaign where people can take the Stigma Free Pledge to show their support of MIAW and commit to be stigma-free!

There are lots of great events happening on campus this week to celebrate MIAW – check out the details for these events below:


Wednesday 10/7:

Expert Mental Health Panel and Discussion

Time: 5:30-7pm

Location: Hyde Hall (176 E. Franklin St.), University Room

Details: A panel of experts will discuss a variety of mental health topics; a Q & A session will follow. Refreshments provided!

More info:


Thursday 10/8:

Yoga and Meditation Seminar hosted by NAMI at UNC

Time: 5:30-7pm

Location: Forest Theatre (the outdoor theater at the corner or Country Club Rd. and S. Boundary St.)


Friday 10/9:

Mental Health Awareness Day

Time: 8am-4pm

Location: Neuroscience Hospital Lobby (directions here)

Details: This is an all-day event sponsored by UNC’s Department of Psychiatry that will involve interactive displays, poster sessions, and information on community resources related to mental health.


Saturday 10/10:

Rethink: Psychiatric Illness Training

Time: 12-4pm

Location: TBD (more information after you register)

Details: “At the Rethink: Psychiatric Illness Training, 30 students and community members break away from societal stigma to learn the basics about mental illness, become aware of the statistics and prevalence of mental illnesses in our state and on our campus, debunk myths, learn what we can do to help ourselves or a friend in need, familiarize ourselves with the resources available on campus, and understand the specific actions we can take to act as advocates. Throughout dynamic activities which include role playing, a trivia game, crossing lines, and a talk where a UNC student shares his or her personal experience with mental illness, participants become empowered and learn how they can do their part to empower others.”

Register here:


Interested in getting involved and learning more about topics around mental health? There are a number of great student groups on campus to check out:

Rethink Psychiatric Illness

Embody Carolina

Stigma Free Carolina

Active Minds

National Alliance on Mental Illness on campus at UNC-Chapel Hill


Mental Illness Awareness Week

Logo from National Alliance for Mental Illness:
Logo from National Alliance for Mental Illness:

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).