What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020 

Did you know... 

  • One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year(Source) 
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24. (Source) 
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in America. (Source) 

These startling statistics are why each year the first week of October is recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week in an effort to raise awareness, educate, and destigmatize mental health. 

 The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states, “We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. The theme for Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020 is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know,” which will hopefully educate the public on the realities of mental illness and reduce the widespread misunderstanding and stereotyping.  

Here are 3 things individuals living with mental illness want you to know.  

1. Mental illness is an illness.  

Would you blame someone suffering from heart disease for not running a marathon? Or chastise a coworker for missing work due to a serious illness? Mental illness is just as valid as any physical illness, yet the stigma has often placed blame and disbelief on those suffering in silence. Just because you cannot see the symptoms does not mean they are any less debilitating.  

man looking out window mental illness awareness

2. Mental illness does not define an individual. 

An individual who suffers from severe mental illness is much more than just a diagnosis. Those with schizophrenia are not “crazy” or violent, those with PTSD are more than their trauma, those with depression are allowed to smile, the list goes on. Many individuals with mental illness can live an outwardly normal life, yet as soon as others know they are diagnosed with a mental illness they are instantly judged and treated differently.  


3. Mental illness presents differently in everyone.  

For some individuals, depression can manifest as extreme lethargy and lack of motivation. For others, it could present as suicidal ideation and self-isolation. There is no one-size-fits all to a mental illness diagnosis, and it’s important to understand that each and every symptom and disorder is reasonable. Furthermore, the treatment for mental illness varies across the board as well. For some, medication works. For others, therapy may be the right choice or a mixture of both.  

This Mental Illness Awareness Week, educate yourself before passing judgement and perpetuating negative stereotypes. As shared by NAMI, mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are scared to, talk about them.” It’s time to start the conversation and talk about mental illness. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental illness, the clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers are available to help. Our clinicians and care managers are available to assist you through our Community Behavioral Health Clinic located in Gloucester County.