Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 5 – 11, 2014
Yes, it’s true…once again it’s time to get involved. It is time to realize that 1 in 4 American Adults and 1 in 5 children will experience mental illness this year. Think about it this way, if you are an adult sitting in a room with three complete strangers, then you can be assured that one of the four of you will experience a mental illness this year!
Since 1979 the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has existed with the following mission: NAMI is a grassroots organization of individuals with mental illnesses, especially serious mental illnesses, their family members, and friends whose mission is to advocate for effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support, research and recovery that improves the quality of life of persons of all ages who are affected by mental illnesses.
It was in 1990 that our U.S. Congress set the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Establishing this week was a way to recognize the work being done by NAMI to raise awareness of mental illness. NAMI is also actively involved in Mental Health Month (MHM) which is in May.
How aware are you of mental illness?
You might think this an odd question, but it is important to realize that many of us can be oblivious to others’ mental health and behavioral health issues. We tend to get so busy with our own lives that we look beyond another fellow human being’s suffering. It might be easier for us to take note if someone is suffering from the disease of addiction, particularly alcoholism, than it is to see mental illness.
New research asks simple questions…
This past week the results of new research were published online in the journal of Psychiatric Services: Stigma, Discrimination, Treatment Effectiveness, and Policy: Public Views About Drug Addiction and Mental Illness.
This study was conducted at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and was led by Colleen L. Barry, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. The goal was to compare public attitudes about mental illness and drug addiction.
The researchers asked 709 adults to complete an on-line survey between October 30, 2013 and December 2, 2013. The survey asked questions about stigma, discrimination, public policy and treatment.
According to the HUB ( News from Johns Hopkins) article:
- Not only did they find that respondents had significantly more negative opinions about those with drug addiction than those with mental illness, the researchers found much higher levels of public opposition to policies that might help drug addicts in their recovery.
- Only 22 percent of respondents said they would be willing to work closely on a job with a person with drug addiction compared to 62 percent who said they would be willing to work with someone with mental illness.
- Sixty-four percent said that employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent with a mental illness.
- Forty-three percent were opposed to giving individuals addicted to drugs equivalent health insurance benefits to those afforded the public at-large, while only 21 percent were opposed to giving the same benefits to those with mental illness.
- Respondents agreed on one question: Roughly three in 10 believe that recovery from either mental illness or drug addiction is impossible.
Some closing thoughts…
It would seem after reading the results of this survey that NAMI is having success in educating the public about mental illness. Now in its 24th year Mental Illness Awareness Week must be having some impact, as well as Mental Health Month.
It is important for people to understand that both mental illness and addiction are treatable health conditions. A discussion surrounding this study would be a good conversation to have.