There are several noteworthy campaigns in October intended to help educate and increase awareness about mental health and mental illness. Proem wanted to highlight these campaigns and encourage you and your organizations to participate in them.
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) runs from Oct. 1–7. It was established by Congress in 1990 to raise awareness of mental illness, fight discrimination and provide support.
National Alliance on Mental Illness's (NAMI) theme for MIAW 2023 is "Together We Care. Together We Share.," which NAMI says is intended to speak to the impact of NAMI's support resources and convey the power of coming together in community, which can be healing as people gather to share experiences.
National Depression Screening Day falls on the Thursday of MIAW — Oct. 5 this year. On this day, people believing they may be experiencing a depressive disorder are encouraged to take a mental health screening test. National Depression Screening Day also helps raise awareness of the importance of undergoing depression screenings to help with early identification and treatment of disorders. As Mental Health America notes, "Like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a routine part of healthcare."
An estimated 21 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2021, a figure representing more than 8% of all U.S. adults. Globally, an estimated 3.8% of the population are affected by depression, including 5% among adults and 5.7% among adults older than 60 years
International OCD Awareness Week (Oct. 8-14) immediately follows MIAW. It was launched in 2009 by the International OCD Foundation and is intended to raise understanding and awareness of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and how it affects people. It's also a week to share knowledge and help reduce stigma around OCD. Research shows that about 1.2% of U.S. adults had OCD in the past year.
World Mental Health Day falls on Oct. 10. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. This year's theme for the day is "Mental health is a universal human right," which WHO says is intended to "improve knowledge, raise awareness and drive actions that promote and protect everyone’s mental health as a universal human right."
Finally, while not a campaign specific to mental health and illness, it's worth noting that October is Health Literacy Month. Mental health literacy can play an important role in mental illness diagnosis and treatment. As an International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction article notes, "Individuals with higher levels of mental health literacy recognize mental health problems and symptoms, know where to seek help and information, and understand that the mental health problems can and should be treated. Mental health literacy is associated with behavioral health care utilization and propensity to seek behavioral health services."
Unfortunately, as the article states, mental health literacy in the general U.S. public is low, with most individuals struggling to identify mental health disorders and understand how to obtain helpful information and treatment. Thus, efforts to improve outcomes for those who suffer from mental illness must take mental health literacy into account. Visit Mental Health Literacy to learn more.