In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of efforts by the National Alliance on Mental Illness to raise awareness about mental illness. 

The goal of this year’s MIAW is to reduce stigma around mental illness and replace it with hope and healing. Many hospitals are addressing mental health stigma within their communities; here are just a few examples:


  • Clara’s House, part of Centara Care in St. Cloud, Minn., provides care for children and adolescents with mental health issues and/or chemical dependency in a nurturing and safe place. Clara’s House works to make an impact on the stigma associated with mental illness and chemical addictions.
  • Harris County Hospital District in Houston developed Community Behavioral Health Program (CBHP) and integrated behavioral health services into all 12 Harris County community primary care centers, two school-based clinics and its Homeless Program. Patients are less concerned about “stigma” when receiving psychiatric care at primary care centers and can more easily get to appointments at their neighborhood centers.
  • Saint Anthony Hospital (SAH) Mental Health Services in Chicago offers culturally sensitive counseling services and emotional support to adults who have limited or no access to health insurance. Bilingual, bicultural, clinical social workers provide free individual and couples psychotherapy, and social workers lead free therapeutic and psycho-educational groups. Program leaders also provide clients with appropriate support and work to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.
  • Scripps Health A-Visions Vocational Training Program in San Diego teaches employment skills to patients with psychiatric disorders, who are then placed in volunteer positions and apply to part-time positions when they become available. The program helps reduce stigma around mental illness while providing a part-time work force capable of completing projects and tasks that allow other staff to focus on their primary responsibilities.


Stay tuned for more information on how hospitals are improving the lives of those with behavioral health issues such as mental illness and substance abuse during #MIAW.