Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. However, mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread.

That is why each year, during the first week of October, NAMI and participants across the country raise awareness of mental illness. Each year, we educate the public, fight stigma and provide support. And each year, our movement grows stronger.

We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

MIAW 2020

The theme of this year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week is, “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” Throughout the week, we will be raising the voices of those with lived experience to talk about some of the conditions and symptoms that are most misunderstood. 

Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 4 – 10 and coincides with additional related events:

  • Tuesday Oct. 6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
  • Thursday Oct. 8: National Depression Screening Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope

You Are Not Alone

NAMI continues our year-long awareness campaign, You Are Not Alone, to feature the stories of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the broader public. Now more than ever, the mental health community must come together and show that no one is ever really alone. No one should be without the information, support, connection and help they need.

How to Engage Online with MIAW

MIAW Video Series

NAMI is featuring videos from real people sharing their lived experience with some of the symptoms and conditions we are focusing on during MIAW. Watch and share the videos below.

Krishna Louis: What I wish people knew about anxiety


Andrea Landry: What I wish people knew about bipolar disorder


Ashlynn McNeeley: What I wish people knew about Borderline Personality Disorder

NAMI Blog

Each day during MIAW, we’re featuring a blog addressing the theme “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know.” Visit the NAMI Blog at nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog and look for posts on our social media.

Personal Stories

Each day during MIAW, we’re featuring personal stories from real people experiencing mental health conditions at nami.org/personal-stories. By reading about lived experience, we aim to make people feel less alone in their mental health journeys.

Social Media

Social media graphics and logo files you can share on accounts as posts, cover images, website hero images or to add to existing messaging can be downloaded here.

Here are some sample social media posts you can use throughout MIAW. Amplify our social media posts by sharing, liking and retweeting.

  • There is a lack of understanding surrounding people experiencing mental illness. That’s why @NAMICommunicate is sharing some of the most misunderstood aspects of mental illness each day during MIAW. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health is a huge part of overall health and should be a priority for everyone, whether you have a mental health condition or not. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • There is no health without mental health #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • (10/10) Today is World Mental Health Day. We all have mental health challenges and if you are struggling right now, know that You Are Not Alone. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW
  • Mental health can and should be a priority this election season. Visit NAMI’s new election website, vote4mentalhealth.org, and pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth.

Additional Resources

Information, resources and graphics to support Mental Illness Awareness Week can be downloaded here. Additional stats, infographics and resources can also be found on our Mental Health by the Numbers web page.

Fast Facts

These are only a few of the reasons why it’s important to take part in promoting awareness for MIAW. Please use these facts and others, including the infographics at nami.org/mhstats, to encourage discussions about mental health through social media or other forms of outreach.

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 25 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
  • Mental illness affects:
    • 37% of LGB adults
    • 27% Mixed/Multiracial adults
    • 22% of American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 20% of White adults
    • 17% of Latinx adults
    • 16% of Black adults
    • 15% of Asian adults
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
    • Major Depressive Episode: 7.2% (17.7 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)
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