Mental Illness Awareness Week
> 10/11/2007 9:48:15 AM

In 1989, Congress declared that the first full week of October would be Mental Illness Awareness Week. It has been almost two decades, and though awareness has certainly increased, there remains a lot of ignorance and stigma to dispel. We urge you to take the time this week to participate in some of the mental health activities organized throughout the country.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) took on the great responsibility of organizing this week, planning a special focus and a slew of activities for each day. 1100 affiliates in every state are running lectures, candlelight vigils, and free screenings. Check out the website for Screening for Mental Health, Inc., or your local NAMI affiliate, to find out about free screenings for a variety of mental health problems.

Today is both National Depression Screening Day and Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed— the manic episodes can easily be overlooked so that the disorder seems like unipolar depression— so it is important to teach the public what to look for in both illnesses. Clinicians across the country are volunteering their time to educate their communities about the dangers of these mental illnesses, and are available to evaluate anyone who appears to be at risk. Tests are quick, confidential, and possibly life-saving.

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