If you’re living with depression, you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why, in 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. Advocates use the month of October to fight stigma and raise awareness about depression and other mental health conditions.
Raising awareness doesn’t just help other people understand your condition. MyDepressionTeam members have found that gaining more knowledge about the condition helps them make more informed decisions about treatments and strengthens their feelings of self-reliance.
If you’d like to get involved in increasing awareness about depression, consider taking a few important steps.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics about depression. Learn more about depression’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatments.
Depression is a persistent low mood that affects everyday actions and behaviors. Whereas most people experience periods of sadness, grief, or general low energy, people with depression experience at least two weeks of symptoms that change their ability to function in daily life. Although depression requires proper treatment and support, it is treatable, and most people with depression respond well to treatment.
There are a variety of causes of depression. While researchers have established that both hereditary and environmental factors can influence a person’s risk for depression, for the most part, they don’t know why some people suffer from depression and some do not.
After you’re armed with information about depression, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about depression, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness about depression.
To ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate depression-related hashtag, like #DepressionAwareness, #NAMI, or #MentalHealthAwareness. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same mental health interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with depression to realize they aren’t alone. Joining a social network for people with depression, such as MyDepressionTeam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise awareness about depression is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for depression, play bingo, host a silent auction or fundraiser, or even create a unique event that meets your interests. You can help other people understand more about depression while having fun and raising money for the cause.
You can also share informational graphics from NAMI with your network.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your lived experiences, so know your limits and accept when it’s time to put your mental well-being first.
On MyDepressionTeam, more than 139,000 people living with depression come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your depression journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.