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National Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental illness is a common ailment for millions of people, but you may never know it.  Part of the problem is that mental illness has been kept in the dark for years.  The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) seeks to shine a light into the darkness this week.  National Mental Illness Awareness Week is a tribute to spreading accurate information and break the stigma of mental illness.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

The experience of enduring a mental illness is bad enough on its own.  However, it also comes with some baggage.  Many people feel there is a stigma to the label of “mental illness.”  Images of heartless medical staff, padded rooms, and people with wild hair come to mind.  These mental pictures have been shown in magazines, books, TV shows, and movies.  They can be hard to shake, especially since they create such a disturbing aura around anything resembling mental illness.

Who really wants to believe they are “going crazy” or “losing their mind”?  In fact, the stigma is part of the reason people with mental illness stay so isolated from others and from the care they need.  Each mental illness does something to distort thinking and exaggerate emotional intensity. 

These factors often spur on beliefs about being worthless and not deserving of good will from others.  Add on the potential embarassment and rejection from others upon finding out the big secret, and you can understand why the true rates of mental illness may never be known.

What You Need To Know About Mental Illness

Mental Illness is common.  You very likely have a friend, coworker, or family member who has been or is currently experiencing a mental illness.  It’s also likely that you won’t know about it until it’s over or after it’s persisted for quite a while.  Even close friends or family members may make excuses, hide symptoms, or deny any suggestion that they have a problem.  Yes, the stigma and the nature of mental illness are that potent. 

The term “mental illness” includes many different problems ranging from mild anxiety or depression to more intense disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia.  Some are temporary, lasting only a few months.  Others require occassional hospitalization and many recurring cycles throughout a person’s lifetime.  Family history plays a significant role, but it does not mean everyone is destined to repeat the mistake of others.  With help and support, people with mild to severe mental illnesses can have productive fulfilling lives.

Once you experience something like depression or significant anxiety, there is an increased risk of having it occur again.  However, mental illness is very treatable with mental health counseling, the use of medication when it seems appropriate, and support networks.  The greatest struggle might simply be getting a person in the door.  Once they see a therapist or doctor, there are many ways to create a personalized plan for treatment.

Help and Hope For All with Mental Illness and Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Open your eyes to mental illness – it could be closer to you than you think.  If you know someone with mental illness or drug and alcohol addiction, counseling and drug rehab are life-changing treatments.  Mental illness and drug addiction are not destinies for a miserable hopeless life.  There is help and hope for all.

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