October 3rd to 9th is World Mental Illness Awareness Week! Originally established by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, Mental Illness Awareness Week is a campaign held annually through the first week of October, designed to raise awareness and increase Canada’s understanding of mental illnesses.
Alongside Mental Illness Awareness Week is World Mental Health Day, which is celebrated annually on October 10th. This day is celebrated to raise awareness of mental health and increase supports and resources around the world.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is Mental Health in an Unequal World. There remain various inequalities to accessing services for many individuals across the globe. This theme encourages people to focus on the issues that increase mental health inequality worldwide and how we can help tackle this inequality.
Many individuals experience mental illnesses; however, individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) experience disproportionately high rates of mental health challenges. Approximately 90% of individuals with FASD experience at least one mental health issue in their lifespan. Some of the common comorbid mental health issues individuals with FASD experience include depression, mood and anxiety disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mental health professionals should be aware of the high number of people with FASD that experience mental health challenges.
With the continued fight against COVID-19, the mental health needs and challenges of individuals across the country must be supported, especially for those with FASD. However, there are a number of barriers that individuals may experience when reaching out for help and/or achieving good mental health. Although everyone is likely to encounter their own personal challenges, common barriers to accessing quality mental health care include stigma; lack of available services; lack of effective treatment options, and lack of diagnosis. Mental health professionals should recognize that traditional treatments aren’t always effective for those with FASD and additional steps should be taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of these patients.
As we celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day, let’s continue to raise awareness around the mental health needs of individuals with the goal of making mental health care accessible worldwide.
To learn more about mental health and FASD, we encourage you to check out our mental health resources.