About Mental Illness Awareness Week
Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual national public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of Canadians to the reality of mental illness. The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada.

Campaign elements include: a grassroots public education initiative; a nationally-distributed poster and bookmark series; the 3rd Annual Champions of Mental Health Awards luncheon in Ottawa and an education initiative with federal Members of Parliament, both in their home ridings and on Parliament Hill.

Why Mental Illness Awareness Week?
For too long, Canadians with mental illnesses have been in the shadows. Too few Canadians know about the burden of mental illness on our society, and too few sufferers seek help when they need it. Mental Illness Awareness Week seeks to raise awareness of the level of mental illness in Canada; to reduce negative stigma about mental illness amongst the general population and health care professionals; and to promote the positive effects of best practice in prevention, diagnosis and medical treatment

About Mental Illness in Canada
Mental illness affects more than six million—or one in five—Canadians. Of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide, five are mental disorders. Close to 4,000 Canadians commit suicide each year and it is the most common cause of death for people aged 15 - 24. By 2020 it is estimated that depressive illnesses will become the leading cause of disease burden in developed countries like Canada.

Many Canadians do not recognize that they are ill while others don’t seek help because of misconceptions about these diseases. Taking the time to learn about mental illness could make all the difference to you or to someone you care about. It’s important to watch for warning signs of mental illness—and to seek medical advice as soon as possible if any become apparent. Symptoms include:

[list]Marked personality change
Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
Strange ideas or delusions
Excessive anxiety
Prolonged feelings of sadness
Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Thinking or talking about suicide
Extreme highs and lows
Abuse of alcohol or drugs
Excessive anger, hostility
Violent behaviour
Irrational fears[/list:u]