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Mental Illness Awareness Week

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week!

Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place across Canada in the first full week of October every year. During this week, organizations across Canada raise awareness about how mental illnesses affect people’s lives in different ways. In addition, the public can learn more about how to reduce the stigma around mental illnesses. In 2020, Mental Illness Awareness Week takes place from Sunday, October 4th to Saturday, October 10th.

Mental Illness Awareness Week

What are Mental Illnesses?

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that can affect many different aspects of a person, such as:

  • Thought processes
  • Emotions
  • Moods
  • Behaviours
  • Sense of self
  • Capacity to connect with others
  • Ability to cope with stress

Common Mental Illnesses

There are many different mental illnesses. For example, some common mental illnesses are:

Anxiety Disorders:

Conditions in which people’s experience of anxiety becomes overwhelming and often affects other aspects of their lives.

Bipolar Disorder:

A chronic illness involving extreme changes in people’s moods, energy levels, and ability to think clearly. In addition, people experience periods of mania or depression that can last days or weeks.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):

A condition characterized by:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Severe mood swings
  • Impulsivity
  • Unstable self-image

Moreover, these characteristics can negatively affect people’s relationships.

Depression:

Persistent feelings of sadness that can impact people’s:

  • Thoughts
  • Moods
  • Behaviour
  • Energy levels
  • Activities
  • Physical health

Eating Disorders:

Conditions in which people’s intensive concern about food, weight, or body image lessens their ability to focus on other parts of their lives.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

An illness in which a person has repeated and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or irrational urges to perform certain actions (compulsions).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

A condition in which some people who have experienced a traumatic event, such as an accident, assault, military combat or natural disaster, may have repeated, involuntary memories or flashbacks of the event, sometimes triggered by sights, sounds or smells that recall the event.

Schizophrenia:

A condition in which people have difficulty distinguishing what is real from what is not, thinking clearly, making decisions, relating to others, or regulating emotions. People may also have hallucinations or delusions.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

An illness in which people experience periods of depression during late fall and winter but are without these symptoms for the rest of the year.

Different Affects of Mental Illnesses

Moreover, people experience mental health challenges in many different ways. For instance, some people experience periods of illness between times when they are feeling their best, while others’ states of mental health are unchanging. Additionally, some instances of mental illness may be caused by triggers. For example, a person may develop depression after an upsetting life event.  However, other people may have depression without experiencing such an event. Furthermore, some people experience one depressive episode while others undergo repeated episodes.

Likewise, someone with BPD may experience a persistent feeling of anger after an event elsewhere that inspired this feeling. Similarly, a person who has PTSD may experience flashbacks of a traumatic event through a certain smell or sound.

Therefore, people who have mental illnesses may sometimes face challenges, such as:

  • Focusing
  • Processing information
  • Making choices

In addition, people may also begin behaving in non-typical ways, for example, distancing themselves from others.

Raising Awareness

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is an organization that teaches the public about mental illness. During Mental Illness Awareness Week, the CAMIMH holds the Faces of Mental Illness campaign featuring people who have mental illnesses. Every year, people openly talk about their experiences with mental illnesses. Their campaign aims to reduce stigma around mental illness and to teach people about available supports and services.

Consequently, Mental Illness Awareness Week is a chance for open and positive dialogue about how mental illnesses impact people. Moreover, this dialogue helps answer questions and lessen fears surrounding mental health. As a result, the public becomes more aware that people with mental illnesses can live full lives. When people have the supports they need, they can be fully involved in work, family life, and their communities.

Happy Mental Illness Awareness Week to all our readers!