Mental Illness Awareness Week runs from October 4-10, 2020 and coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10th. Established by Congress in 1990, the objectives of this week are to raise awareness of mental health issues, fight stigma, unite, and provide support.
Data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicate that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year, with problems ranging from depression, anxiety, and substance abuse to severe mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate and can affect every community, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. However, certain communities have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to mental health issues, such as sexual and racial minorities and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
This year’s Mental Illness Awareness Week comes at a time in our lives that is particularly challenging. The COVID-19 pandemic, which rages globally, has brought with it a mental health crisis. We are being faced with heightened stress levels, anxiety and fears for ourselves and our loved ones, social isolation due to social distancing recommendations, and having to adapt our lives to the new normal. Additionally, 2020 has been plagued with an increase in natural disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes, and social injustices.
If you notice that this year has taken a toll on your mental health, know that you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line are available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and 741741 (Text HOME), respectively. The I-M-UT Crisis Hotline, our own UT crisis resource, is also available 24/7 at 713-500-IMUT (4688). And UTHealth Student Counseling Services is available for in-person and telehealth therapy sessions Mondays through Fridays, from 8 AM to 5 PM by calling 713-500-5171 to schedule an appointment. Psychoeducational resource videos can be found on the UTHealth Panopto website (UTHealth Student Counseling Services Wellness Presentations) and are updated monthly. Additionally, check our wellness blog, #UTHealthWellnessConnection, regularly for new tips and resources for maintaining your mental health and well-being.