Mental Illness Awareness Week – Help Me End The Stigma!

We are not alone!
End the stigma!
Never give up!

These are the cries of a group of individuals who have suffered in shame, embarrassment, and silence for far too long. For years, mental illness and instability was only whispered about behind closed doors. Those who did not struggle with mental health often dismissed mental illness as “crazy,” and those who did battle with mental health issues were terrified to admit to their challenges.

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Finally, this ruthless tide is beginning to turn. Brave individuals are stepping forward, opening up, and telling the stories about their struggles with mental illness. Though we are moving in the right direction, we still have a very long way to go before our culture will truly understand and respect the challenges people with mental illnesses face. In order to help us keep moving forward, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has designated this week (the first full week of October) Mental Illness Awareness Week. In honor of MIAW, I want to share with you some important things I have learned about mental illness during my work as an online mental health counselor.

Mental Illness Comes In All Different Forms

It is impossible to describe mental illness in a concise manner because it manifests in hundreds of different ways. It can affect everyone from the sullen teenager with the failing grades to the successful, high-power executive. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, poor self esteem, anger management issues, substance addiction, and self-injurious behavior are just a few examples of the different ways mental illness can manifest. No matter how their challenges manifest, however, individuals suffering from mental illness all have two things in common:

  • They often feel misunderstood by others and (therefore) isolated from their friends and family.
  • They desperately need support and reassurance, but they don’t know how (or are afraid) to ask for it.

Since that which they need most is often the hardest thing for them to ask for, it is up to the rest of us to proactively reach out to those in need. If you know someone who is (or whom you suspect may be) suffering from a mental illness, don’t be afraid to extend a hand. You have no idea how powerful and life-changing your gesture may be.

Mental Illness Does Not Discriminate

I touched on this earlier, but it is so important that it bears mentioning again. Just as there are countless different forms of mental illness, all different types of people can be affected. Students and teachers, CEOs and janitors, parents and children – literally anyone can be at risk for developing some sort of mental illness under certain circumstances.

It is critical to realize that mental illness is not always easy to identify. Some people wear their depression or anxiety on their sleeves, but others are masters at keeping it hidden. Don’t assume that the people who “have it all together” are immune; it is this type of assumptive thinking that can further perpetuate the feeling of isolation in people suffering from mental illness.

Help Spread Awareness For Mental Illness Awareness Week!

We are moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go towards building a culture that is supportive of people who are working hard to overcome their struggles with mental health. It takes the dedicated efforts of concerned individuals like you and me to make it happen. As an experienced online psychotherapist, this cause is particularly near and dear to my heart. However, I can’t do it alone! Together, we can overcome the stigma and help create a more empathetic community – just as long as we Never Give Up!

Samantha M. Ruth, Transformational Psychologist
Online Therapy… Your Therapy, Your Way!
Call: 248-730-5544
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