NAMI Connecticut believes that mental health conditions and the lives of all people touched by them are important to discuss year-round but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.
This year I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a “Call to Action” during MIAW.
I hear that phrase a lot. Best I can understand it, a Call to Action is a rallying cry; it inspires you to do something. For example, “get out and vote,” "call your legislator today,” “donate now.”
But can a Call to Action be broad and somewhat diffuse? I wonder, because one of the key tenets NAMI Connecticut is built upon is ensuring “a life in the community for everyone.” We talk about this as a fundamental goal of the work we do. It’s about inclusion, dignity, home, humanity. Isn't that what we want to bring to the forefront for MIAW in 2019?
I’ve come to see a life in the community as something different than a goal of our organization; something ‘out there’ that we strive for. I think it is a Call to Action for our organization. It animates everything we do.
What we do - support, education, and advocacy - is about people having a life in the community; a life they define. Think about it. What’s the point if it’s not about everyone we serve experiencing the community they want; the shared experience they strive for, we all strive for, in their congregation, school, housing, and a myriad other such communities. That is our purpose, our Call to Action.
I invite you to join me in responding to this Call to Action. Join me at NAMI Connecticut. I welcome you to find a place with us as we continue building a life in the community for so many still in need.
Kate Mattias MPH, JD
Executive Director NAMI Connecticut
576 Farmington Ave.