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Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4 – 10, 2020

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work, or family activities.1

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental health conditions will impact 1 in 5 adults! Despite this staggering statistic, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread.

Just think about all the people who are not getting the support and help that they need because they are afraid of what others may say or think about them. Don’t even get me started on the dreadful label, “crazy”. It is a hurtful word, and it is hard for many to deal with because it may have so many traumatizing memories and actions tied to it.

There is definitely one thing in common with cancer and mental illness and that it the stigma that surrounds them. Both conditions can turn one’s life upside down. As a cancer survivor, I know firsthand how cancer can impact your mental and emotional health.

The flood of emotions that I experienced when I heard the words, “You have cancer!”, was overwhelming and it was not something that I had experienced before. Depression, anxiety, and fear are common. That’s just in the beginning! I am so grateful that I had the option to talk with a social worker who assured me that what I was feeling was normal.

I honestly believed that getting support and doing self-work to acknowledge and manage those feelings impacted my healing and outcomes in a positive way. This is just one example of many that demonstrates why it is important to raise awareness of mental illnesses.


“I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health. My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?” —Kerry Washington, Glamour


Programs during Mental Illness Awareness Week are designed to create community awareness and discussion in an effort to put an end to stigma and advocate for treatment and recovery. Let’s normalize talking about mental illness year-round and not just during Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Learn more about mental illnesses at the National Alliance of Mental Illness website or the Mental Health America website.

Mental illness statistics

Warning signs of mental illness.

Challenges that a mental illness can cause.


Talaya Dendy

The Cancer Doula


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Cover Image Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

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