This week is National Mental Illness Awareness Week.
We were reminded by Kid Cudi that no one is immune, but more importantly, it’s OK to admit you need help.
National Mental Illness Awareness Week is the first full week of October every year. The week was established by the U.S. Congress in recognition of the National Alliance for Mental Illness’s (NAMI) efforts to increase mental illness awareness.
The term “mental illness” carries a pretty heavy stigma – people often think of severely mentally incapacitated people, those in need of constant supervision so they won’t hurt themselves or others, people who are adults but lack adult mental capacities, or people who have “gone crazy” after a traumatic event or physical illness. In the worst cases, there are people who believe mental illness is a result of not being “strong enough” to handle life’s misfortunes, disappointments, or events.
None of those definitions are accurate and those misconceptions often cause the unfortunate consequences of people refusing to seek help for fear of being looked down upon by friends, family members, and other members of society.
Mental illness, as defined by NAMI, is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Conditions like depression, eating disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are often brushed aside as minor problems that people can “get over,” but the fact is many people are suffering through life with untreated illnesses that may lead to decreased enjoyment, or in worse cases, suicidal urges.
Earlier this week, rapper Kid Cudi posted on Facebook that he has checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges, stating that he was not “at peace.” Some may find it hard to understand why a successful rapper with thousands (maybe millions) of fans would possibly be depressed. What could he possibly be so upset about with all his money, success, and fame?
Well, that’s just it. You never know someone’s personal struggles and the things that torment them before they go to sleep at night – if, that is, they can sleep at night. Just as no amount of money or success can ensure a person does not get the flu, cancer, or Alzheimer’s, mental illnesses are no respecters of persons.
It’s very important that, as a society, we learn the warning signs of mental illnesses in our friends, family, coworkers, and people with whom we interact every day. Even more important is that we end the stigma associated with getting help. Just as we would never criticize someone for seeing a doctor when they are physically ill, we should applaud those suffering from mental illnesses for seeking the help they need.
For more information on how to end the stigmas, learn warning signs, and get help, visit the NAMI Web site at www.nami.org.
You can also learn how to better respond and support those getting help by taking the Stigma Free Pledge at www.nami.org/stigma.
We, at the Hive Society, wish nothing but the best for Kid Cudi and everyone else out there getting the help they need.