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#IAmStigmaFree: Mental Illness Awareness Week Began 25 Years Ago


Mental Illness Awareness Week began 25 years ago. In 1990, Congress designated the first week of October every year to eliminate stigma against those dealing with illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia.

Some have taken to social media to post about their own experiences with #IAmStigmaFree.

Angela Kimball is the associate policy and legal affairs director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She says awareness to help end the stigma for mental illnesses -- such as depression or schizophrenia -- is crucial, especially considering recent shootings at an Oregon community college and Northern Arizona University.

“What we know about mental illness is that it can be a variable that’s involved for mass shootings, but we know that mental illness doesn’t cause violent behavior,” Kimball said. “In fact, what we do know is that the vast majority of people who live with mental illness are not violent. They’re our friends, they’re our neighbors, they’re our co-workers, they’re ourselves. People with mental health conditions are far more likely to be the victim of violence or to tragically die by suicide than they are to hurt others.”

Kimball says college-aged adults are a population that especially needs mental health awareness. Three-quarters of all mental illnesses show first signs by age 24.

About one in five people in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition.