Practice Tip of the Week: Mental Illness Awareness Week & National Depression Screening Day
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Posted by: Roy Muyinza
By: Melissa Parmer, RN, CCM, MBA
October is cause for a number of recognitions and celebrations as parts of Texas feel relief from the heat as autumn arrives; homecoming season is in full swing and fall festivities are underway. October also marks Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 6 –12) and National Depression Screening Day on October 11 in addition to World Mental Health day on October 10.
Mental illness affects all individuals, regardless of profession, culture, age, gender or socioeconomic status. One in five U.S. adults experiences a mental illness each year. In 2018 alone 11.4 million adults in the United States experienced a serious mental illness, and 9.2 million U.S. adults experienced a mental illness cooccurring with substance use disorders. In 2016, 7.7 million U.S. youth (ages 6-17) experienced a mental health disorder.
Certain portions of the population, such as veterans and their family members may also experience mental health conditions specific to military services, including PTSD.
While the numbers may seem daunting, the importance of raising awareness is ever-pressing. National Depression screening day raises awareness as to the importance of determining risk for depression; individuals are encouraged to take a confidential depression screening. Additionally, other mental health screenings are available, at any time of the year.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA) offer a number of resources, whether for individuals in crisis, patients wishing to sustain mental well-being, or information for concerned family and friends. Importantly, both NAMI and MHA have affiliates within the Lone Star state.
NAMI offers a basics training course tailored towards family, parents and caregivers providing care for symptomatic persons aged 22 and under. Texas Nurses Association offers a suicide prevention resource guide, and you can read Practice Tips from May and last year.
Opportunities abound for people interesting in making a difference, whether by learning more about nursing policy, public policy, advocacy, or by attending conferences. Both the Texas Nurses Association and American Nurses Association offer opportunities specific to mental health, including continuing education or events.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek appropriate treatment and resources. Nurses experiencing mental health issues can contact the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses to get more information or to self-refer. You can also contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness via text message (text “NAMI” to 741741).