In 1990, the United States Congress designated the first full week of October as “Mental Illness Awareness Week”!
Since 1990?? Over 20 years ago?? Unless you are looking for mental illness or mental health information specifically, or you are in the mental health field, you may have never heard of it.
The goal of Speak Away the Stigma is to not only to encourage those who have been affected by a mental illness to speak openly about it, but it is to also bring awareness on the various mental illnesses and the importance of taking care of your mental health. One question I had when I first began reading more about mental illness was “What is the difference between ‘Mental Illness’ and ‘Mental Health’?” When you search one, you see results on both. I have also been asked by a few people about the difference, and this was my answer (which I always preface with I am not doctor, nor am I mental health professional; this is just the way I look at it): Mental health is about having a healthy mind, just like how physical health is about having a healthy body. With all of the things your body goes through, it requires some maintenance to keep it healthy; your mind is no different. Traumatic events, sudden changes, death, LIFE IN GENERAL, happens and these things may affect your mind, and some “mental maintenance” may be necessary.
Mental Illness can be the result of not taking the time for “mental maintenance”, there could be a genetic predisposition, or it could be a combination of the two. (Again I am not a medical or mental health professional, this is information I have read and discussed with mental health professionals over years) For example, the chances of having Hypertension, Diabetes, and Heart Disease can be increased a result of not taking care of yourself physically, a genetic predisposition or a combination of the two. The chances of being diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Depression, and Bipolar can be increased by certain factors as well. Many of us know if Cancer or Heart Disease runs in our family, but do you know if ADHD or Autism runs in your family? Take some time to speak about your family’s mental health history, was anyone affected by mental illness?
Take care of your mind. Take care of your body. Take care of one other.