In 1990, the United States Congress established the first Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise awareness of types of severe mental illness, their treatments and the effects of a loved one's mental illness on families. Since then mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.
Information and focus have expanded too, now encompassing depression, a widely diagnosed mental health condition, anxiety, PTSD and others. MIAW is held during the first full week of October, falling on Oct. 6 through Oct. 12, in 2013.
? Oct. 2: NAMI Fond du Lac will kick-off MIAW with an "In Our Own Voice" program in the Eugene McLane Room at the Fond du Lac Public Library on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m. "In Our Own Voice" is one of the NAMI signature programs, developed by the national organization and offered by NAMI affiliates throughout the United States.
Two trained individuals with some type of diagnosed mental illness, using a five-part video, tell the stories of their personal journeys from "Dark Days" through "Hopes and Dreams for the Future." The video also provides real stories by real people, no actors, which highlights how mental health recovery can free people to understand their illness, develop an individual treatment plan, and move forward to a better life. Additional materials will be available on a variety of mental health diagnoses. The public is invited to attend.
? Oct. 6: Two faith-based programs have been developed, book-ending the week. On Sunday, Oct. 6, the Open Circle Unitarian Universalist Church's 10 a.m. service will be entitled "Stigma and Grace: Living with Mental Illness." Local individuals whose lives have been touched personally by mental health problems, both as family member and as individuals with a mental illness, will be part of the program.
? Oct. 11: An excellent opportunity also is offered by Salute the Troops, a Fond du Lac-based non-profit group, who will host a Veterans Mental Health Symposium on Friday, Oct. 11 at Marian University. The event will feature sessions designed for law enforcement personnel and first responders, faith leaders, health care providers, as well as employers, veterans, their families and the general public. Severe post-traumatic stress disorder has been identified as an ongoing problem for some Veterans returning from Iraq and Afganistan, and its effects endure long after the Veteran returns home. This symposium offers speakers who are nationally recognized experts on issues affecting military personnel and their families.
For more information on the Oct. 11 event, contact the Salute the Troops website at www.SaluteTheTroops WI.org
? Oct. 13: On Sunday, Oct. 13, the First Presbyterian Church will feature a sermon reflecting on the difficulties faced in life by challenging mental health issues and illnesses, at both the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. times.
The "Sermon Talk-Back Session" will provide an opportunity for ongoing discussion at 9:15 a.m.