Mental Illness Awareness Week

Submitted by Daniel on

Mental Illness Awareness Week has been observed annually from October 2-8 since its official establishment by Congress in 1990.

Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness are highly involved in using this week to raise awareness of mental illness, understanding of it, and support for the mentally ill members of our society.

Mental illness sadly carries a very negative and incorrect stigma. Mental illnesses can affect anyone, at any age, from any walk of life, and are not related to social factors such as upbringing. Mental illnesses vary widely in the way they affect individuals, but they are all medical conditions which should be treated as such. Mental illnesses disrupt a person’s ability to think, speak, act, and otherwise function normally in everyday life, and should not be taken lightly or ridiculed any more than a serious medical condition.

Commonly documented mental illnesses are:

Mental illnesses affect nearly 57 million adults every year, and 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. are mental illnesses. This is why it is important to gain a better understanding of how to properly diagnose, treat, and support those who suffer with mental illnesses – they are literally all around us, although we may not know it.

Because of the stigma associated with many mental illnesses, many cases go undiagnosed. Some people fear what others will think if they admit they have or think they may have a mental illness, or if they are clinically diagnosed with a particular condition.

Organizations involved with Mental Illness Awareness Month seek to dispel the myths and negative stigma associated with mental illnesses, raise awareness of their actual (often treatable) symptoms, and show how many different ways the lives of the mentally ill can be improved.

Treatments for mental illnesses vary based on the specific symptoms of the illness, but usually include a combination of medication, psychological and behavioral therapy, social therapy, and reintegration into the activities of daily life through specially designed programs.

Programs provided by health organizations can often make living with a mental illness much more attainable. With the proper assistance, symptoms of mental illnesses can be almost completely alleviated. This is a far cry from the hopelessness, alienation, financial ruin, and other negative potential consequences of mental illnesses going unnoticed and untreated.

Like any severe medical condition, mental illnesses can easily become disabling, and the Social Security Administration lists many mental illnesses in its Blue Book of disabling medical conditions. When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSI, a person’s eligibility for benefits is determined by how their mental illness has impacted their ability to engage in normal activities and secure employment. For those who suffer from severe mental illnesses, SSDI or SSI may provide access to income and medical assistance that would otherwise be unavailable.

Mental Illness Awareness Week is a great time to utilize the information and resources provided by organizations such as NAMI to improve your knowledge of mental illnesses. For information about qualifying for Social Security Disability with a specific mental illness, please feel free to visit our Disabling Conditions page and click on the disorder of interest.

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