Breaking the Stigma: Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

Ayanna Carr-Brown, The Village Life Center

PLAQUEMINE – Each year, nearly 44 million adults in the United States are affected by mental illness. In support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness' (NAMI) efforts to raise public awareness about mental health conditions, Congress has designated a week in October as Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (October 11-17) is "I am Stigma Free." The stigma free initiative aims to raise mental health awareness by educating others on mental illness, accepting each person as a unique individual, and taking action to spread the word and make a difference. The Village Life Center, a mental health agency, supports this initiative by offering community outreach and education services for the Iberville Parish and surrounding parishes. The caring and dedicated mental health experts at The Village Life Center are committed to providing the most comprehensive, professional services tailored specifically to the needs of each individual.

Mental Illness

According to NAMI, nearly one in five adults living in the United States (43.7 million) is affected by mental illness in a given year, and one in 25 adults (13.6 million) lives with a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with their quality of life. One in five teenagers aged 13-18 has, or will have a severe mental health condition.

By diagnosis, the prevalence of mental illness in American adults is as follows:

• 1.1% live with schizophrenia

• 2.6% live with bipolar disorder

• 6.9% live with major depression

• 18.1% live with anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias

Dealing with the Stigma

Many people living and coping with a mental illness often face unfair discrimination due to ignorance, prejudice, or misunderstanding. Harboring prejudice can have devastating consequences on those affected by mental health conditions. Feelings of inferiority and shame can delay the healing process by exacerbating depression and increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts.

The theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is "I am Stigma Free." Being stigma free means learning about mental health and educating others, seeing and accepting the person as a unique individual and not a diagnosis, and taking action to educate others and raise awareness.

The purpose of the stigma-free initiative is to promote understanding and acceptance by actively challenging social stereotypes. It's crucial for the public to understand that mental disorders are medical conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior and are not the result of poor upbringing, personal weakness, or inferiority.

Community Support

Community support plays an important role in the awareness and acceptance of mental illness. The Village Life Center is equipped with an extremely dedicated team of mental health professionals, including licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, licensed psychological associates, psychologists, and licensed marriage and family therapists. The caring and committed health experts strive to promote mental health awareness in the community through outreach programs and education services. The mental health programs at The Village Life Center encourage mental wellness and recovery for all individuals and families in the community.

"Mental illness is a disease," said Ayanna Carr-Brown, CEO of The Village Life Center. "Just as a person with a medical condition needs medication, individuals living with mental illness need to take medication to treat their symptoms. With proper treatment, people with mental illness can and do live happy, productive, and fulfilling lives."

The Village Life Center, LLC is a behavioral health service provider located in Plaquemine, Louisiana and serves the Iberville Parish community. The center offers a full range of outpatient therapeutic psychiatric services, including individual counseling, psychiatric treatment plans, and crisis intervention. The Village Life Center mental health programs promote and encourage hope, wellness, and recovery for all individuals and families in the community as they embark on their journey to mental wellness. Visit The Village Life Center's website at www.villagelifecenter.com to learn more about the center.

Sources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "Mental Health by the Numbers," https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "Mental Illness Awareness Week," https://www.nami.org/miaw