This week marks a critical time for people to reflect on the silence and stigma surrounding mental health conditions, as well as the progress that has been made since 1990, when the United States Congress first instituted the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Throughout the week, communities, organizations, and others bring attention to the high prevalence of mental illness and the challenges facing those seeking mental health care. Efforts by advocacy groups, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), have raised important issues and improved public education concerning mental health. Ultimately, these efforts aim to combat the sense of loneliness, isolation, and alienation often experienced by those living with mental illness.

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According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 20% of adults in the United States experienced mental illness in 2018. 1 in 6 American youths aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 10-34.

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Major depressive episodes and anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions facing American adults.

Only 43.3% of adults living with a mental illness in the United States received treatment in 2018, and the delay between onset and treatment hovers around 11 years. Also in 2018, 11.3% of adults who needed treatment had no health insurance coverage. According to the American Psychological Association, the cost of treatment in the US remains very high.

NAMI offers resources, including infographics, events, and opportunities to share your experiences, to commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week.


1. Winerman L. By the numbers: The cost of treatment. American Psychological Association. Accessed October 9, 2019.

2. Mental health by the numbers. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed October 9, 2019.

3. Mental Illness Awareness Week. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed October 9, 2019.