The first full week of October is designated Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of mental illness, fight stigma, and advocate for equal care.

One in five adults and youth experience a diagnosable mental illness every year and half of chronic mental illnesses appear early in life, in many cases by adolescence. Twenty percent of youth have one or more diagnosable mental disorders, with the most common being anxiety, mood, and disruptive behavioral disorders. Adults with depression, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia likely displayed symptoms before age 24.

Sadly, many individuals and families affected my mental illness face stigma and discrimination. NAMI encourages people to replace stigma with hope by taking the #StigmaFree pledge at http://www.nami.org/stigmafree.

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