This week (October 4 - 10) is Mental Illness Awareness Week. It is a time to highlight that mental illness does not discriminate - any race, any sex, any income level. Anyone may be among the one in four people who will have a definable mental illness during their lifetime. Research continues to learn more about how the physiology, chemistry and electric circuitry of the brain may be impaired and disordered with damaging, but often treatable, outcomes.
This year’s theme is, “What People with a Mental Illness Want You to Know.” While each individual may have specific messages that recognize the personal impact of illness on everyday living, some things are universal. People with a mental illness want you to know it is not a choice. It is not a weakness, and it is not the product of a bad upbringing. It is an organically based illness--the same as any other.
Every year, October 10 is recognized as ‘World Mental Health Day’. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts to the health of people living with mental illness and to the systems that support them this year. As economic consequences are being felt globally, it is putting additional stresses on a system that is under-built and underfunded, and WHO calls for investment into mental health programs at the national and international levels.
This week, Washington County convened its first week-long Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training class for Law Enforcement and Corrections since before the virus appeared. Over 20 County professionals are in attendance. It is not uncommon for patrol officers to report that 50% of their calls involve some aspect of mental illness. As one Washington County Deputy stated, “Mental health issues are more of a pandemic than the pandemic.”
This month, $3,000,000 of the CARES Act funding in Minnesota will be allocated to help community-based mental health providers address the costs of critical care supplies, cleaning, social distancing and the costs of business interruptions related to COVID-19.
NAMI Washington County (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) exists to educate, advocate, and support families who experience mental illnesses.