Facing Mental Illness [INFOGRAPHIC]

October 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) and an opportunity to learn more about mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  Advocates across the country sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses. The aim of the week is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and dispel some of the fears we have about people with mental illness. Congress established the first MIAW in 1990 in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness about mental illnesses.

Please share our “Facing Mental Illness” infographic with statistics showing the prevalence of mental illnesses in our society.  We invite you to make it a part of your educational outreach and campaigns focused on the MIAW’s theme, “changing attitudes and changing lives.” Mental illness can affect anyone. In fact, one in four adults will experience a mental disorder in any given year. Help us spread the important message that mental illnesses are medical illnesses, and treatment is available.

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2011 Infographic via MSW@USC

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  • National Council

    This is a super way to convey important information, especially in time for honoring Mental Illness Week. Thanks for the brave contribution to reducing stigma and helping to deliver mental healthcare!

    • Anonymous

       Thank you so much for helping us spread awareness!

      • Creshelv

        I used to be a schizophrenic patient for 10 months I drunk medicine. But now I off medicine for 1 year, and so far so good. I am Filipina and living in the Philippines. My life is back to normal and happy life, even without medicine. I am a member of fitness site, and I wrote blog often telling about my mental illness. But my net friends loves me of who I am, and they like me. My physical friends here in the Philippines knows my mental illness, but all of them accepted me and supported me and show their love and sympathy to me. They treated me like normal person. Right this moment even I am off medicine, but no signal for schizophrenic yet. I am thankful for this, plus I am not scared about stigmatize to people. Who cares? No body cares really. They have their own problems, not same as mine but they have too. Tomorrow I will going to attend a birthday party at the beach. More laughters and talked and etc. I live like a normal life daily here in my country.

        • Mick Bramham

          I received this link yesterday (through Twitter) about Will’s life as he was diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ and how he, like you, has found ways to cope with life’s difficulties with the help of his friends. I found it helpful.

  • Jessica

    I can’t seem to embed this image, I want to share it with some of my psychology classes.

    • Anonymous

       Hi Jessica, 

      In order to share this,  you can paste the embed code into any another website.    Or you can share this website link in an email or facebook page.    Let me know if you have any further problems, I’d be happy to help! 

  • guest

    Why is mental illness frowned upon?  I believe if there were more outreach for people with mental illness, my cousin would not have taken her life.  I do not believe there is not enough resources and outreach for people with mental illness.  Once they are diagnosis with mental illness they honestly feel they will be viewed differently and will not be accepted by society.  How can we educate and spread the understanding of mental illness to family and friends so this want be viewed as a plague. 

    • Anonymous

      Hi — thank you for posting, and I am sorry to hear about your cousin.   If we all continue to educate and spread these important messages over time we can help to change the public view and the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.

  • Mick Bramham

    Come on folks – what on earth are you saying here?!
    “Mental illnesses are medical conditions” you say.  None of the major diagnosed ‘mental disorders’ have been proven to be “medical conditions”.  Kraepelin’s dream of proving them to be so has not come true.   We must stick with scientific research and not conjecture or wishful thinking. 
    So you want to do away with stigma by telling many more people that they have a mental illness – and with the thinly guised threat that untreated mental illness is costing the US billions of dollars.  The treatment success rates you quote are depressing.  In the 1960s doctors expected around 80% of people to recover naturally from depression.  Prior to the use of neuroleptic drugs around two thirds of those diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ recovered.  That’s about what we expect today with those people in non-industrialized countries without our ‘advanced’ treatments.  How many of those diagnosed as ‘bipolar’ you cite were previously on antidepressants? Please be aware of the studies indicating a feasible correlation between this rise of ‘bipolar’ and the adverse effects of ADs.  Only around 41% with a diagnosable mental illness receive treatment, you say.  Are you hoping to widen the net? 
    Seriously, do you have drug industry finance to support Mental Illness Awareness Week? This just reads like a marketing advert to help gain more consumers.  And please let’s not drag children into this web. We really must stop and think more carefully – how can prescribing what is, all else being equal, synthetic cocaine to children with ‘ADHD’ really going to help in the long-term?  The studies I have on this are alarming.  Please rethink what you are doing.  With sincerity.  Mick

    • Tcmccw

      Thank you well said. Finally someone who realizes that that all these drugs we try giving to kids makes them far worse in the long run.

    • B.M.

      stop stigmatizing individuals with mental illness. They are people to. I guess you probably think cancer is probably a made up disease by companies who sell chemotherapy.

      • Mick Bramham

        That’s my point.  Exactly.  Good science!  Cancer can be shown by blood tests, MRI etc. But there are no medical tests to prove the evidence of the major ‘mental disorders’ as brain diseases (which are then thus corrected by the drugs with long-term use).  I am not saying people do not suffer – that’s quite a different matter.  I am not against medications per se.  But I am for keeping to the science and people being told the truth so they can make properly informed choices. 

        If people choose medication for example, that’s up to them.  But they can’t make intelligent decisions without accurate data.  I went to the garage the other day and the mechanic gave me some bull shit blag which clearly was not true.  It can be the same with any product or sales: we live in a capitalist/consumerist culture where it seems prudent to question financial motives too.  In fact my original question has not been answered yet: whether or not Mental Illness Awareness Week has pharmaceutical funding. 

        I have been offered treatments in general medicine too, which on occasions, having done my research, I consider I don’t need.  Doctors offer personal opinions – not always hard facts. I respect that, but I also respect the need for you and I to keep an open mind, think for ourselves, and make informed choices about health care (and any other matters) – but this is only possible if we are given accurate information. By personally choosing not to use mental health labels (though I respect an other person’s choice to use them – though we can’t with the current science claim them to be scientific fact) I stand by not sigmatizing people.

        I hope this is helpful in seeing more clearly where I come from.  I think there are too many people stuck in polarised positions and it is easy to assume from one small comment from me that I am one of them.  I enjoy reading books on neurology, neuropharmacology and the like.  I am keen not to put others in a box.  Please don’t put me in one. :)

        • Marlenas

          Ok, reading this post, Mick, I can see you are a bit open to others’ ideas and would like the same in return.

          Firstly, contact NAMI or whatever organization decided to make this “whatever-it-is” awareness week. I think awareness days and weeks are a bit silly myself. I cannot speak for the pharmaceutical industry, so I have no idea if they are the ones behind it.

          Secondly, I deal with mental health issues on a day-to-day basis. Awareness of others in my life to “mental illness” means a lot to me, if they so choose to educate themselves. Most don’t. Luckily, I have a few people with whom I am close who either have the same diagnoses as me, or who are willing to learn about what I deal with daily.

          Thirdly, the scientific part. There are studies on neurological processes: “neurons that fire together wore together.” This is a studied FACT, especially in cases with trauma-related mental health issues.

 There is a link you can follow to a doctor who studies such ideas. He is based in mindfulness, because that is where a lot of these studies happen–comparing brains of those who meditate everyday to those who do not. There is a lot of study in this area recently. You may learn from that, as I have.

          Fourth, and last, I do not count myself as my diagnosis. I was advised not to do that by not only my therapist, but also my psychiatrist, who prescribes my medications. My psychiatrist has my own wellness at heart, and I can say that from my own history.

          Hope this also gives you something to be open-minded about. I realize there is lack of scientific evidence for mental health problems, but wasn’t it the same for cancer and diabetics years and centuries ago? I’m not for big business; but I AM for those of us who have to deal with mental health problems daily.


    • Marlena

       I have major depression and anxiety disorder. It affects just about every aspect of my life, and has since I was a child. I am 39 now. I now get sick more often because of stressors

      I suppose I could kill myself so as not to be part of these statistics so they don’t exist for you to espouse your “pseudo-science” thoughts,” Mick. The reality is, however, that mental illness affects not only the individual, but also the family and larger society in which we live. Who cares if it’s a “Mental Illness Awareness Week”?

      And, seems to me, it sure made your defenses go WAY up and had you thinking about it! Maybe that’s not such a “bad” thing that it has you thinking about this as a disease. KEEP thinking.. and with a more non-judgmental stance, perhaps. Be mindful of why you are so defensive about this and investigate it within yourself. (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, would be fruitful for most human beings in today’s world).

      Does mental illness run in your family? Are you in the human services field? Either one of these can have a person left jaded and cynical–not left with an open mind.


    • Jade

      To be fair, no one forces you to take medication unless you are in a mental ward as an inpatient, even if you are a minor. I would be aware of this since I have had 2 different mental disorders since I was 14 and have not taken medication for them since I was diagnosed by my choice. Also, I have to assume you have never been in contact with someone with a mental illness personally, because once you have it is very clear to see that it is indeed a medical condition. Please keep your ignorant opinions away from places like this who are only trying to spread awareness and make people, like myself, feel less ashamed in their own skin.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe someone should add something about mental illness and crime victimization.  I don’t have any history of mental illness and yet when I have reported crimes *for which I have evidence* I have been treated as though I were crazy, which is a revictimization. Not only am I wasting time defending my sanity, but it also indicates that there is a medieval attitude toward victims who DO have mental illnesses. 

    Imagine if I actually had a psychosis, a disease or mental condition that was or could be diagnosed.  Would it have been even worse?  While statistics can point to the rate of incarceration of those with mental illness, I would like to see someone point to the rate of victimization of those with mental illnesses and couple it with the attendant attitudes of society, the legal system, the justice system, etc.  I worked for someone who had unwarranted paranoia – I won’t guess what her diagnosis could be – and certainly she  did not go around reporting fake crimes though she did spend a lot of time combing through the trash cans of her employees, eavesdropping and stopping all social conversations in the office.

    That being said, nobody likes to be victimized by someone who is ill or not.

  • Dirkh

    It’s sad that a useful graphic aimed at telling the truth about mentall illness gets savaged buy commentators with various agendas. You’d think you had just run the latest ad from Pfizer or something. People are so primed to see evil in attempts to treat mental illness through pharmacology. The stigma of mental illness is alive and well.

    • Matei Andrei B

      I started seeing this trend as well. More and more students (myself being one of them) are encouraged by health “professionals” to take anti-depressants and adhd medication to solve minor inconveniences. What these pills actually do is that they create several other disorders such as anxiety. I uploaded an interesting infographic about the state of mental illnesses and the medications prescribed here:

  • Dirkh

    “None of the major diagnosed ‘mental disorders’ have been proven to be “medical conditions”

    You’re right–let’s go back the demon theory of the 12th Century.

    • Mick Bramham

      I feel sure you will agree that we need accurate and scientifically sound information to support our choice making in regard to our health care.  But informed choices can only be made if the person making the decision has a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of a decision. To tell someone that “mental illnesses are medical conditions” is not to date supported in fact. We can’t make informed choices without the proper information. The church in days of old held rigidly to the idea of demons to account for aspects of life that are difficult to explain.  That is one ‘story’ or way of trying to make sense of life in its complexity. Today there are ‘stories’ framed in scientific language which try to give us explanations for human suffering – but some of these are still simply ‘stories’ – though just as passionately embraced as the church ones of old.  We need to be honest emough to say we little understand the human brain and any mechanisms that affect mood and behaviour.  We can still look hopefully for any future developments to enlighten us. I quote the authors of the book – The Biological Basis of Neuropharmacology (Oxford Uni Press 2003, p 102) –  “Somewhere over the rainbow, one hopes that one day somebody will reveal the grand design in neuronal communication that leads to behavioural changes ranging from the subtle to the dramatic.”

      • Dirkh

        “We need to be honest enough to say we little understand the human brain and any mechanisms that affect mood and behaviour.”


      • Dirkh

        “We need to be honest enough to say we little understand the human brain and any mechanisms that affect mood and behaviour.”


      • Dirkh

        “We need to be honest enough to say we little understand the human brain and any mechanisms that affect mood and behaviour.”


      • Dirkh

        “We need to be honest enough to say we little understand the human brain and any mechanisms that affect mood and behaviour.”


    • Kmaguder

      Have you ever heard the expression, “The mind controls the body?”

  • Dirkh

    “Prior to the use of neuroleptic drugs around two thirds of those diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’ recovered.”

    Would love to see even a shred of documentation on this howler. Links please?

    • Mick Bramham

      My source is Dr Loren Mosher, (who held posts that included professor of psychiatry, and from 1968-80 he was the Chief of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Center for Studies of Schizophrenia).

      In his book (co-authored with Prof Burti) “Community Mental Health, principles and practice” 1989, he writes:”more than two-thirds of schizophrenics recovered without drugs before they were available and … long-term outcome is no better today than it was before the introduction of neuroleptics” (Page 3).  He supports his statement with 6 references.

      • Dirkh

        Ah, the Soteria project. Based on the work of RD Laing, who “inspired a generation of wrongheaded thinking about the treatment of schizophrenia.” (Schizophrenia Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2002)

        • Mick Bramham

          Yes, Loren Mosher was actually the founding editor of Schizophrenia Bulletin, wasn’t he.  As a reader you will probably have read the respectful tribute to his life and service to mental health – this was following his sudden death in 2004.  Wishing you well Dirkh, Mick

  • Lee Horbachewski

    I applaud you for the work and dedication put in to this infographic.

    As I read through the comments I am filled with a mixture of emotions.  For 10 years I have dealt with depression.  October 31, 2004 I attempted suicide while in a psychiatric ward.  I am on a low dose anti-depressant, and there are times throughout the year that I need to adjust that.  In saying that, I am also a huge advocate of alternative treatments.  I have a Social Worker as my Counsellor who is also trained in Integrative Body Mind Psychotherapy, I receive Reiki/Massage once a month, I have an Emotional Support Team who I reach out to when darkness sweeps over me.

    To the people below who have thrown their opinions, perceptions – educated or not!  The truth of the matter is these statistics are real!  My perception of “untreated” is that someone is suffering in silence, is not reaching out and asking for help.  

    The stigma that surrounds mental illness, mental health, times of darkness – whatever you want to call it – is what contributes to one million people committing suicide each year across the globe.  

    Depression does not define me, it is not who I am.  However, it is a reality in my life that I face, as it does many others I know.

    Each individual has the right to choose for themselves what course of “treatment” they take.
    Each individual has the right to feel safe to reach out and ask for help.
    Each individual has the right to feel accepted no matter what illness/disease they may have.

    I for one have witnessed the incredible work of NAMI, Awareness weeks, days HELP to bring attention, HELP to have people open up – talk and share.

    In 7 days, due to Mental Illness Awareness Week, here are some statistics for you from ME:
    * 8 people called me and admitted for the first time to anyone, that they were thinking of taking their life.
    * 24 private facebook messages of people sharing they lost a loved one to suicide.* 11 private facebook messages of people admitting they have depression or bipolar.* 7 direct Twitter messages saying Thank you, I reached out to the 24 hour crisis line for support.* 2 people emailed me saying they were going to take their life, authorities were notified.I for one CONGRATULATE you MSW for a fantastic infographic.Thank you for your continued commitment to mental health.Lee

  • Kathy

    Nice graphic. There definitely needs to be more awareness of mental illness in our society. When I was in college, I knew more people who had some sort of mental illness, be it bipolar, anxiety, adhd, depression or what have you then didn’t. Yet people still talk about in hushed tones. I myself have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. I also have a lot of anxiety issues. By finding others like me, I gained a lot of confidence in myself and am not afraid to talk about my challenges frankly. If any of you reading this want to learn more about Asperger’s, here is a good resource
    Thanks for raising awareness, keep up the great work!

    • Anonymous

       Thank you for sharing your story Kathy!  I hope you continue to talk about these issues and spread awareness.

  • Michael De Rosa

    I just came across this article.  Good infograph.  I work in the mental health field facilitating recovery groups throughout the week, so I am very conscious of helping people see themselves as people first, and not label themselves as an illness.  

    Another aspect of confronting the stigmas that others throw at people with mental illness is to also help those with mental illness refrain from stigmatizing themselves.   I see a lot of this, and one way that I am dealing with it is to day by day treat them with respect, and gently prompt them to do the same towards others and themselves.


  • Annalisa Enrile

    what a great infographic.  I’m going to share it with my students!

  • Sales Associate

    Very informative infographic. I had no idea treatment success was so high for bipolar disorder. People with mental disorders need to get help. Thanks for helping spread awareness.

  • Danial Garcia

    Mental illness is usually find in elders and my grand mother is also having but now as various treatments are available to cure this illness. we can easily get these from doctors. It is nice to aware people about all these cures.

  • Danial Garcia

    Since we are talking about mental illness; Do you know how many people ask for help on Yahoo! Answers and other forums because of such conditions. Perhaps there should be some way of reaching out to these people.

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  • Winter Mute

    This infogtraphic is making the rounds on social media right now and I found the lack of detailed citations troubling. As a cognitive neuroscience student, it would be irresponsible for me to simply believe all of this data because it’s in a list. Some of the facts I find hard to consider credible, especially with the distinctions between major mental illness and how you’ve used them.

    You wouldn’t happen to have something more detailed and a bit more accountable would you? As an educational institution I would consider that the bare minimum you should be presenting. You should encourage people to fact-check.

  • Yosh

    Stigmatizing is not crime? I hope they know what they did and are doing.

  • Tonya

    How might I obtain a print of this infographic? I’d like to share it in my NAMI Family Support Group meetings and other mental health related venues.

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