While the challenges of mental illness and mental health are every day, October 2-8, 2016 is designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). This week is a special time for mental health professionals, families, and those living with mental illnesses to focus on raising awareness of their needs, while celebrating abilities.

This October, consider making yourself an advocate and ally for those living with mental illness by taking part in one or more of our suggestions.

Evaluate your language.
Have you ever called a situation “crazy” or a person “schizo”? Unfortunately, these terms are a part of some conversations and are derogatory to those who live with mental health challenges. Take an extra close look at your language this month, making an effort to pare down any words that might be offensive or hurtful.

End the stigma.
Part of living with mental illness of any type is the stigma that often follows. Have you ever thought of someone differently once you hear they live with depression or bipolar disorder? End the stigma of mental illness and take the #StigmaFree pledge here.

Educate yourself.
Even if you don’t work in a profession that directly serves those with mental illness, you are still likely interacting with people living with mental health challenges in your daily life. Consider joining us for one of our upcoming trainings to learn more about mental health.

Take care of yourself.
Addressing your own mental health is an important part of self-care. Visit our website to measure your stress and determine any other risk factors that could be contributing to your own mental health challenges.

Know Crisis Hotline numbers.
Being able to know where to get immediate help during a mental health crisis is an important part of being an advocate for those who may be struggling. Educate yourself on the contact information for different crisis lines that can be the gateway to help for those who need it.

Volunteer and advocate.
If you are looking for a way to make an immediate impact in the mental health field, consider volunteering for a local organization. Your help would be appreciated! Even if you cannot make time to volunteer consistently, you can always be an advocate for mental illness and health. Stand up for mental health causes that you believe in, and educate your family and friends about mental illness, stigma, and ways to help.

Happy Mental Illness Awareness Week! Let’s take this week to build momentum and carry it with us through this entire year.

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