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Here are some suggestions on how to participate in Mental Illness Awareness Week from the site that was created just for this purpose.

Sept 30 to Oct 6, 2007

Designing an Event

Need ideas? Read about events from previous MIAW campaigns, check out the following options - or be creative and develop your own!

Suggestions for Families
  1. Develop a family time capsule on mental illness beliefs and thoughts. Open it next year, and see if everyone in the family still feels the same way.
  2. Write an article on mental illness and submit it to the local newspaper for publication during MIAW.
  3. Compose songs (or change the words to existing ones) that deal with mental illnesses. Organize a concert for family and friends.
  4. Organize a puppet show or short theatrical presentation with your children about mental illness.
  5. Discuss the myths about mental illness.

Suggestions for Hospitals and Health Clinics
  1. See if your local hospital is planning any seminars and/or public lectures during MIAW that could promote the campaign. If nothing is planned, offer to forward information about MIAW and help them get involved.
  2. Hold a panel discussion, host a public workshop or bring in a high profile speaker to the hospital, agency or clinic where you work.
  3. Contact your local community health clinic to make sure that it is aware of MIAW; organize a briefing session and circulate promotional material. Ask to organize an information session or open house to demonstrate the multidisciplinary approaches taken toward mental health and rehabilitation.
  4. Ask your doctor to help organize an event. Involve family and consumer groups in any events planned at hospitals or clinics.
  5. Set up information booths at your community health clinic or hospital; organize information fairs with the participation of several hospitals and health clinics in your area.
  6. Hold a poetry, short story writing or poster/art contest on mental illness. Publish the best submissions in the hospital newsletter or magazine.
  7. Hold a raffle or bake sale. Instead of charging money for a ticket to win a prize, have people answer a question about mental illness to win.

Suggestions for Schools, Libraries or Other Community Organizations
  1. Set up a MIAW information booth in a plaza or shopping mall.
  2. Organize a walk-a-thon to promote awareness of mental illness.
  3. Organize lectures, seminars, workshops or an open house around this year's MIAW theme at community centres.
  4. Give a lecture or screen a film on mental illnesses for students, teachers and the general public at a neighbourhood school or library. After the screening discuss what it would be like to have a mental illness or how best to deal with people who have been diagnosed with a disease. Discuss some of the myths about mental illness.
  5. Ask your mayor to officially proclaim the first full week in October as Mental Illness Awareness Week.
  6. Write to your city councillor, provincial representative, provincial and federal health ministers and request that they put mental illness on their agendas. You can also ask them to participate in a MIAW function. For example, they might host a breakfast or luncheon for colleagues, featuring a speaker who has experienced a mental illness or someone who can speak on some aspect of this year's theme.
  7. Meet with local, regional, provincial and federal representatives to discuss mental illness issues one-on-one.
  8. Organize a poster or essay-writing contest. Have the winning entries published in the local newspaper and/or post them on the bulletin board at the school or community centre.
  9. Work with schools, the community and/or the library to plan a fun and educational event with games and prizes for children and adolescents.
  10. Organize a social event such as a pancake breakfast, a fall picnic, or kite-flying festival hosted by local celebrities. Organize a community party and have educational activities for children and informational brochures about mental illness that people can read while waiting in line to get their food.
  11. Organize a quilting bee. Each section of the quilt could represent some aspect of mental illness.
  12. Ask the library to set up a book display and hold a "Reading about Mental Illness" day in which community members read stories dealing with mental illness.
  13. Distribute information about mental illness at local community centres, grocery or health food stores, universities or sports centres. Drop off materials at libraries, bookstores, pharmacies and doctors' offices. Set up an information table.
  14. Create a visual display on mental illness at school or the community centre.
  15. Organize a training session during MIAW to help community members understand how best to help people with a mental illness. Then, encourage the community members to volunteer in this capacity whenever they can.
  16. Encourage people to make a list of improvements they would like to see in the community and workplace for people who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. You could begin by listing some ways the community could improve the quality of life for people who have mental illnesses. Discuss ways that individuals, organizations and institutions can address these concerns.
  17. Create a newsletter about mental illness and share it with the rest of the community.

Suggestions for Educators
  1. Have students organize and participate in a debate about the barriers people with mental illnesses face in securing work, and the economic impact of excluding them.
  2. Create a crossword with facts about mental illness. Have students try to solve it in class or distribute it to the public.
  3. Have students interact with students in other countries via the Internet to discover and discuss how mental illness is treated elsewhere.
  4. Have students prioritize what they think are the biggest concerns facing people with mental illnesses, and list possible solutions. What can students do to improve the situation? Talk about youth suicide and what to do if they think a classmate may be suicidal.
  5. Ask students or members of the public to talk about how they feel about or react to people with mental illnesses. Discuss their thoughts.
  6. Ask students to research and prepare presentations on mental illness. They could look at famous actors, such as John Cleese or Margot Kidder, singers or writers who have fought a mental illness. What were the greatest challenges for these celebrities? Are there any parallels to their own lives?
  7. Have students compile a bibliography (with summary) of recent books, articles and films that talk about or portray mental illness. Share the bibliography with others in the community. Hold discussions on the themes presented in these works and how they apply to their own lives or to people they know.

Suggestions for the Workplace
  1. If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) contact the officials and ask them to display MIAW posters, information pamphlets and information about the EAP services in a prominent location at the office. Ensure that the Employee Assistance Program promotes mental health and has a comprehensive mental illness component. If not, offer to help develop one by putting them in touch with organizations that can help out.
  2. Ask businesses in your neighbourhood to distribute information about mental illness in the workplace.
  3. Encourage all businesses to establish programs to help people deal with workplace stress or other mental illnesses. Ask them to develop formal policies on the issue.
  4. Organize a panel debate on mental illness with experts at lunch hour, after work or even during office hours to benefit all workers. Teach workers how to deal with stress. Ensure they know what help is available for addiction, depression, anxiety or other mental health problems they may be experiencing.
  5. Give information to management about the impact of excluding people with a mental illness from the workplace and the dollars lost due to a lack of mental health promotion in the workplace.
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