Unfortunately, for many individuals, fighting and attempting to conquer mental illness is only half the battle. The stigma of mental health issues forces many to cope with their problems in silence and, in certain instances, not receive the help they need. Fortunately, a national organization known as NAMI is fighting to change these potentially adverse circumstances.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, known to many simply as NAMI, was founded in 1979 as a grassroots movement designed to help people struggling with various mental health issues. Today, this national agency based in Arlington, Virginia, has more than 500 regional offices throughout the United States.
The organization’s slogan is “You Are Not Alone.” This catchphrase reaffirms the agency’s commitment to offering programs and services to those with mental illnesses. Moreover, NAMI stresses the importance of giving those with mental issues a voice and reassuring such individuals and their families that there will always be others fighting with them. The agency engages in activities such as providing educational programs to teach individuals about mental illness, work towards adopting public policies that benefit persons with said issues, offer a sympathetic ear to those with mental disorders and continually strive to end the stigma associated with relatively common but serious issues like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.
In keeping with the organization’s work in promoting mental health issues and ending the associated public stigma, an event known as Mental Illness Awareness Week was born. As established by Congress in 1990, the first full week of October is designated for this purpose. This year, the event will begin Sunday, October 6 and last until Saturday, October 12. During this period, the Alliance’s national headquarters, as well as its satellite offices demonstrate extra diligence in their efforts to combat mental illness.
How Can People Help?
During this week (and throughout the year), concerned citizens can help the Alliance’s mission by participating in any one of several important activities such as donate their time and funds (if they possess the financial ability) to various mental health-promoting causes, participate in local events or take the time to gain a proper education about what mental illness is, as well as what it is not.
That said, arguably the most crucial activity individuals at large can partake in is awareness. Raising the awareness that mental illness is a medical problem like any other health malady, and those coping with it should not be treated with indifference or as outcasts, is critical to the Alliance’s mission and ultimate success. Actions that could raise awareness include posting on social media outlets, as well as starting the discussion about mental illness with friends, family, colleagues and other social relationships.