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Open Your Mind: Mental Illness Awareness Week is Oct. 6-12

By HERWriter
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Mental Illness Awareness Week Oct. 6-12: open your mind B-D-S/PhotoSpin

This has been a tough year so far in the United States. We’ve had the Boston Marathon bombings, several gun shootings, natural disasters, the Yarnell wildfire and the current government shutdown.

Although these events have harmed and saddened many Americans, we eventually move on while paying tribute.

But what if every day feels like a disaster that you cannot escape from? What if every day is a struggle to survive in your own mind?

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is October 6-12, 2013, mental health advocates hope to bring a spotlight to mental health and illness education. And with education there can be some understanding of what it feels like to live with mental illness.

One feature of this week is the National Depression Screening Day on October 10, 2013. You can start your own awareness process by taking a self-assessment to determine if you could have depression: http://www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org/

Leonora Kain, a mental health division lead clinician at Pathpoint, said in an email that she suggests people do activities to support mental health awareness at all times.

“We encourage people to care, to focus on a person’s strengths while supporting them to rise above their weaknesses, to give them helpful, accurate feedback when they are receptive to it, and to be respectful – to avoid treating any adult with a disability as though she or he were a child,” Kain said.

She said one common misconception she would like the general public to be aware of is that people with mental illnesses are not more likely to commit violent crimes – in fact, they are more likely to be victims.

Here are two other facts about mental health that tend to get misconstrued:

1] “There is a common misconception that women are more likely to be depressed than men ... Part of this misconception arises from the fact that women are more likely to get treatment and are more likely to talk about their depression.”

2) “Another common misconception is that only women have mood swings related to hormonal imbalance, such as occurs during PMS or menopause. The truth is that men can also have hormonal cycles that affect their moods and behavior.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.