What Can I Do?
Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger. Raising awareness on your own, as part of a small group or part of your community can make a difference.
Taking action and raising awareness of mental health conditions can break down obstacles and improve the chance of recovery. Learn how you can make a difference in your community and for millions of Americans across the U.S.
Take the stigmafree Pledge
Mental health matters to everyone. Individuals, companies, organizations and others can all take the pledge to learn more about mental illness, to see a person for who they are and take action on mental health issues. Take the pledge and raise awareness.
- Learn about mental health—educate myself and others
- See the person not the illness—strive to listen, understand, tell my own story
- Take action—spread the word, raise awareness, make a difference
Know The Warning Signs
Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy. There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.
Each illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following.
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (“lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
- Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Reach Out to Your Community
Address cultural barriers. Certain resources can help people learn about mental health when it’s a difficult topic to talk about because of cultural beliefs or practices. NAMI has developed Sharing Hope and Compartiendo Esperanza to help facilitate the conversation in African American and Latino communities.
Speak with teens. Mental health conditions start early, yet half of teens aren’t getting the help they need. Stigma, fear and lack of awareness are part of the reason. Say it Out Loud provides everything adults need to start community conversations with teens about mental health. These conversations help teens feel more comfortable speaking up when they need help and also know when to help a friend.
Involve Your Faith Community. Faith and supportive faith communities can play a large role in the recovery of individuals with mental illness and their families. Honor someone you have lost and talk about ways to improve resources in your community by holding a candelight vigil or make informative mental health bulletin inserts that you can share with the congregation. Faith community leaders can find additional resources for talking about mental health in Faith Communities.
Host a ST.AN.DE Walk
Connect everyone in the community that is affected by mental illness and have a positive impact on how society deals with mental health. Contact us for more information to host your own walk.