Bipolar 2 From Inside and Out

There certainly are a lot of mental health campaigns going on. There’s one or more in every month. Most of these are “awareness” days, which is a little bit confusing. People who already have the assorted disorders are already aware of them, as are probably their families and perhaps their friends.

When it comes to awareness, though, most non-affected people (or people who don’t realize they are affected) find out about them through TV commercials – during Men’s Health Month, in ads for medications, or from organizations like the Wounded Warriors Project. There may be local events, too, but I haven’t seen any in my area. I don’t even see much of anything on my Facebook timeline, even though my friends list contains a lot of people with mental health concerns. I note that there isn’t a Women’s Mental Health Month, even though most people who receive treatment for mental illnesses are women. (There are many, many special days not related to mental health that I knew nothing of until I started to research this post, such as World Animal Road Accident Awareness Day (though I have some experience with this phenomenon), Insect Repellent Awareness Day, and even Spider-Man Day.)

Here’s what I did find.

January

Mental Wellness Month

February

Children’s Mental Health Week

International Boost Self-Esteem Month

National School Counseling Week

National Eating Disorders Week

March

Self-Harm Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

World Bipolar Day (which I had never heard of, despite being bipolar myself)

April

National Stress Awareness Month

National Counseling Awareness Month

May

Mental Health Awareness Month

National Maternal Depression Month

National Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

Tourette Awareness Month (May into June)

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

June

PTSD Awareness Month

Men’s Mental Health Month

July

International Self-Care Day

BIPOC (or Minority) Mental Health Month

August

National Grief Awareness Day

September

World Suicide Prevention Day (and National Week and Month)

October

World Mental Health Day

National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month

ADHD Awareness Week

OCD Awareness Week

November

National Family Caregivers Month

International Stress Awareness Week

International Survivors of Suicide Day

December

International Day of Persons With Disabilities

National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month

So, how are people made aware of most of these various disorders? By people wearing different colors of ribbons that correspond to them. The idea, I guess, is to prompt people to ask, “What is that silver ribbon for?” and to be told, “It’s for Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness.” If the person inquires further, it’s a chance to educate them, but most people don’t ask at all or ask only what the color means.

There are only a couple of colored ribbons that everyone knows the meaning of – yellow and pink. The yellow ribbon campaign was started in 1979 to show support for persons held hostage in Iran, but now means support for the Armed Forces. The pink ribbon for the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign started in 1991 and is probably the most successful ribbon awareness symbol there is.

Here are the colors of various ribbons and what mental health concerns they are intended to promote awareness of.

Peach – Invisible Illness

Yellow – Suicide Prevention

Periwinkle blue – Anorexia Nervosa

Teal – Agoraphobia, Anxiety Disorders, Dissociative Identity Disorder, OCD, Tourette Syndrome, Stress Disorders, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Panic Disorder

Green – Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder

Lime green – Mood Disorders, Psychosis, Depression, Mental Illness, Postpartum Depression, Childhood Depression, Maternal Mental Health

Purple – Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorders, Caregiver Appreciation

Purple and Teal – Suicide, Survivors of Suicide, Family Members of Suicide

Gray – Personality Disorders

Orange – ADHD, ADD, Self-Harm

Silver – Borderline Personality Disorder

So now you know what color ribbon to wear and what month to wear it in. I hope that if you do, people will ask about it and allow you to expand on what it means. I don’t expect that, however. Almost no one has ever asked me about my semicolon tattoo for Suicide Prevention and Awareness. (I occasionally get to explain it if I point it out to them.) Probably the most effective reminders are t-shirts that identify the condition and maybe the awareness month date, but those are harder to come by, except for Break the Stigma and Mental Health Matters ones. (I do have a t-shirt and a hoodie for The Mighty, a website for mental illness and other chronic illnesses.)

Whatever you do to promote mental health and awareness of mental illnesses, though, keep trying. We need to get the word out!

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Comments on: "Mental Health and Awareness Campaigns" (6)

  1. That’s so interesting that you hadn’t heard of World Bipolar Disorder Day. I had. By the way, April 2 is also World Autism Awareness Day and I think April is Autism Awareness Month, even though most autistics despise it.

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  2. I might be an anomaly among mental health sufferers, but I don’t pay attention to the awareness days or months. Awareness campaigns don’t seem to help me get to work in the morning no matter how poor I feel. I also don’t notice any change in the public’s empathy or understanding of what it takes to live in today’s world with mental illness. I realize I’m not doing my part to reduce stigma or whatever, but I just don’t have the mental energy to focus on these things. Am I making things worse for everyone by feeling this way?

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    • No, I don’t think you are making things worse. When you have mental illness, you have to ration your time to do what you most need to accomplish. I have my doubts about awareness campaigns doing much good with the general public. The only awareness campaign I see having a major effect is breast cancer awareness, and I have reservations about that. (Campaigns against drunk driving and smoking have also been effective, but those relate to choices people make.)

      For those who want to be involved in awareness campaigns, fine. Go for it. But if you can’t participate for whatever reason, that’s fine too. I fear that stigma will always be with us, awareness campaigns or no.

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