Welcome to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW): Oct. 2-8, 2022

Written by Andrew Macia

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For around 50 million Americans, the cold, harsh reality of daily life is one lived with a mental health condition. Whether it’s a depressive disorder, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder or another mental illness, it is likely to affect everything – in some way or another.

However, it’s not just the sufferer who suffers, as it were.

Mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly – predominantly through family, friends, work colleagues, but also through those we don’t really know, those we encounter in everyday places during our day – the grocery store, the library, the subway, wherever.

This is the primary impetus behind Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), held every year during the first week of October, where organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA) and a host of other participants across the country strive to “raise awareness of mental illness, fight discrimination, and provide support through Mental Illness Awareness Week.”

MIAW was first established in 1990, when Congress officially made the first full week of October as MIAW. Since then, MIAW advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about living with mental illness.

In this article, we’ll look specifically at how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a nationwide, grassroots mental health organization with more than 600 local affiliates and 49 state organizations, and Mental Health America (MHA), the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit organization, intend to raise awareness during MIAW 2022.

NAMI’s Theme for MIAW 2022: “What I Wish I Had Known

This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has centered MIAW around the theme “What I Wish I Had Known,” where they focus on “the power of lived experience.”

Each day throughout the week, NAMI will highlight the voices of real people with the experience of living a mental illness. These people will share the different elements of their recovery, and in particular, where they learned something that actually could have helped them sooner.

Here are the week’s lived experiences being shared by NAMI:

Mental Illness:
The Lived Experience
What I Wish I’d Known About…”
Day: Experience:

Monday, October 3


Tuesday, October 4

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding

Wednesday, October 5


Thursday, October 7

National Depression Screening Day

Friday, October 8


In addition, NAMI is featuring videos from people sharing their lived experience of different mental illnesses (click on the title to access each video):

Furthermore, you can read more stories of people’s lived experiences through the NAMI’s Blogs and Personal Stories pages.

Mental Illness: Facts & Stats (NAMI)

Here are a number of important facts and statistics on the subject of mental illness in the U.S., according to NAMI. One way of participating in MIAW 2022 is to encourage discussions about mental health through social media or other forms of outreach using the information you find below:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • Annual prevalence of mental illness among U.S. adults, by demographic group:
    • Non-Hispanic Asian: 13.9%
    • Non-Hispanic white: 22.6%
    • Non-Hispanic Black or African American: 17.3%
    • Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native: 18.7%
    • Non-Hispanic mixed/multiracial: 35.8%
    • Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 16.6%
    • Hispanic or Latino: 18.4%
    • Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 47.4%
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by mental health condition:
  • 46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020
  • 64.5% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2020

The NAMI also encourages people to join the movement to advocate for a better mental health care system by signing up for advocacy alerts, and by taking action when opportunities arise in your community.

You can also promote the NAMI HelpLine, a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public.

The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. You can either call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640, or email us at helpline@nami.org.

Author: Andrew Macia
OCTOBER 10, 2022

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