In 1990, Congress officially established the first week of October every year as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). This event marked a monumental step towards addressing the widespread stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental health and has been recognized increasingly every year. Numerous organizations, groups, and individuals use these seven days to take a chance to pause and recognize the importance of good mental health.
We have encouraged the Heads Up Teens community this week to engage in daily activities to care for your mental health in honor of MIAW. Each day, we asked you guys to do one therapeutic activity, including following a guided meditation, decluttering your work space, and getting some physical movement in. We hope that these little actions have helped you find a chance to care for yourself, and discover the ability of simple actions to improve your well-being.
But mental illness awareness week isn’t over. While today marks the last official day of the week, the meaning of this week continues every single week, 52 weeks a year. MIAW is about taking intentional steps to care for yourself. MIAW is about caring for others by actively being kind even when there aren’t noticeable symptoms. MIAW is about collectively challenging the stigma around mental illness by promoting candid conversation. MIAW is about educating ourselves and others.
Mental illness awareness week is about coming together to support one another’s well-being in a genuine way.
And that’s the way it should be every week.
So I challenge you. Look back at these last 7 days and pause for a second. Think about: What activities did you do that made you feel better? Keep those in your back pocket for when you may need them another time. What did you learn about mental health? Remember that and use that knowledge for talking about mental health in the future Which steps did you take to care for others? Perhaps you texted a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile “hey I’m thinking about you” or you intentionally were more kind. Keep doing those steps every, single, day.
Let’s all carry the spirit of mental illness awareness week into our everyday lives by normalizing open-conversations about mental health, reaching out to each other, and taking care of ourselves regularly. By continuing to learn and being aware of our own actions every single week, we absolutely can break the stigma around mental health. Take care everyone, and keep you heads up 🙂