Mental Health Matters
October 4-10 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), an annual national public education campaign designed to help raise the awareness of the mental illness. This year’s theme, What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know, is part of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) larger campaign, You Are Not Alone that features the stories of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspires others and educates the broader public. This awareness week also coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 8.
It’s important for WIC staff to be aware of the prevalence and impact on health outcomes of maternal depression among the WIC target population – the WIC nutrition assessment process and referral services lend themselves well to identifying and linking women with or at risk of depression to appropriate services.
What to know – key points
Depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day and can interfere with normal, everyday functioning.
Anyone can get depressed, and depression can happen at any age and in any type of person and doesn’t feel the same for everyone.
Depression during and after pregnancy is common (and treatable), and WIC-eligible women may be more vulnerable to the onset of depression or have an increase in the severity of their mental illness.
Depression can interfere with parenting, potentially leading to problems in the physical health and well-being of children of depressed parents.
Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety than in the general population. Research shows that quitting smoking can actually improve mental health in the long run.