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ALEXANDRIA, VA – As mental health issues increase at an alarming rate across the country,  Mental Health America (MHA) is kicking off a 7 Days, 7 Ways (#7Days7Ways) awareness campaign as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 4-10, sending a clear message about getting people the right support – early on.

“We are in the midst of a nationwide mental health crisis,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. “The pandemic has presented a major challenge for people living with a mental health condition. We are also seeing a drastic increase in the number of people being newly screened for anxiety and depression. Left unaddressed, these mental health challenges could develop into more serious mental health conditions that require diagnosis and treatment. The time is now to focus on early screening and advocating for policy changes that support mental health.”

As late as September of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Household Pulse Survey showed that one-third of Americans show signs of anxiety and depression. In addition to already existing mental health conditions, many more people are experiencing complex emotions due to anxiety, stress, anger, grief, isolation, and more. Since the start of the pandemic, MHA’s online screening tool, MHAscreening.org, has seen a nearly 540% increase in anxiety screenings, and a more than 700% increase in depression screenings. MHA’s data also shows that “loneliness and isolation” are the biggest contributors to mental health issues right now.

The 7 Days, 7 Ways campaign lays out seven key things people can do, including challenging our own beliefs about mental health, advocating for policy changes, supporting others, engaging in self-care, getting screened and elevating mental health in the upcoming presidential debates. MHA is promoting a series of events and activities intended to raise awareness:

MHA and its affiliates across the country have observed Mental Illness Awareness Week every year by reaching millions of people through the media, local events, and online screenings. In contrast to Mental Health Month, which stresses the importance of mental health and wellness for all, Mental Illness Awareness Week is an opportunity to spread awareness about what mental health conditions are and how they affect people’s everyday lives.

Seven of the most common mental health conditions include anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, eating disorders, depression, PTSD and addiction/substance use disorders. Each condition coincides with MHA’s free online screening tool. Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether someone is experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

People can follow along on social media using #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek, #MIAW20, #7Days7Ways and #B4Stage4, or visit mhanational.org/miaw to access shareable graphics and more.