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. That is why each year, during the first week of October, NAMI and participants across the country raise awareness of mental illness, fight discrimination and provide support through Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during MIAW 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 MIAW, advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

MIAW 2022

This year’s MIAW is centered around the theme “What I Wish I Had Known” where we will focus on the power of lived experience. Each day throughout the week, we will be elevating the voices of people with lived experience to talk about the components of their recovery where they learned something that could have helped them sooner. The topics include: What I Wish I’d Known About…

  • Monday Oct. 3: Stigma
  • Tuesday Oct. 4: Medication [National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding]
  • Wednesday Oct. 5: Therapy
  • Thursday Oct. 6: Disclosing [National Depression Screening Day]
  • Friday Oct. 7: Caregiving

How to Engage Online with MIAW

Order NAMI’s First Book: “You Are Not Alone”

“You Are Not Alone,” NAMI’s first ever book written by leading psychiatrist Dr. Ken Duckworth, is here to offer help. This comprehensive guide includes stories from over 130 people who have “been there” — including people with mental illness and caregivers — and understand how challenging it can be to find the help you need, when you need it. Their stories are what makes this book different from your typical mental health guide.

The book covers how to get help, pathways to recovery, the intersection of culture and mental health, and many more important topics to guide any person’s mental health journey. NAMI’s hope is that this guide can help people find help and support sooner and make recovery more accessible to those trying to find it.

Order your copy of the book today or for bulk purchases, visit Porchlight- You Are Not Alone.

Share 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

Blogs and Personal Stories


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What I Wish I'd Known About Caregiving: 7 Tips To...

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What I Wish I’d Known: The Art of Disclosing

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Personal Stories

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Out of the Fray

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Taking Back My Adolescence

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Share Key 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 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 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 condition:
    • Major Depressive Episode: 8.4% (21 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
  • 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
  • Annual treatment rates among U.S. adults with any mental illness, by demographic group:
    • Male: 37.4%
    • Female: 51.2%
    • Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual: 54.3%
    • Non-Hispanic Asian: 20.8%
    • Non-Hispanic white: 51.8%
    • Non-Hispanic Black or African American: 37.1%
    • Non-Hispanic mixed/multiracial: 43.0%
    • Hispanic or Latino: 35.1%
  • 150 million people live in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area


Join our movement to advocate for a better mental health care system by signing up for advocacy alerts and taking action when opportunities arise in your community.

Promote the NAMI HelpLine

The NAMI HelpLine is 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.
Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text "HelpLine" to 62640 or email us at [email protected].