2021 Mental Illness Awareness Week and National Depression Screening Day

Health and Wellness

Mental Health Matters

October 3-9 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), an annual national public education campaign, led by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), designed to help raise the awareness of mental illness. This year's theme, Together for Mental Health, focuses on the importance of advocating for better care for people with mental illness. This awareness week also coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 7.

It’s important for WIC staff to be aware of the prevalence and impact on health outcomes of maternal and child 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. Learn more about depression among women.  

Many children have fears and worries, including toddlers who may become distressed about being separated from their parents. 

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.

How WIC can help

Learn more about this important topic and how it can affect your participants,  WIC's role for screening women with or at risk for depressionand find education materials with WIC Works’ curated resources on depression and mental health. You can also test your knowledge using CDC’s interactive mental health quiz to see if you can separate fact from fiction, and NAMI’s StigmaFree quiz to see if stigma might affect you. 

Share WIC Breastfeeding Support resources such as the Moms Emotional Wellbeing video and Taking Care of You article with moms. 

Help raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health and depression by sharing NAMI materials, including infographics and fact sheets 

Provide referral resources for individuals in need of assistance (emergent or otherwise) via the SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, the Mental Health America's Finding Therapy page, and MentalHealth.gov (including suicide prevention and a veterans’ crisis line). 

Encourage participants who smoke to quit and refer them to resources to help them quit, such as free support at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), a free app, or a texting program.


Resources for individuals in need of assistance (emergent or otherwise) can be found via the SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, the Mental Health America's Finding Therapy page, and at MentalHealth.gov (including suicide prevention and a veterans’ crisis line).

Also available is a guide to help families who have a loved one who is suicidal or has made a suicide attempt. It provides information on understanding suicide, warning signs and action steps to take, and how to prevent future attempts and keep your loved one safe.

Mental Illness Awareness Hand Holding
Developed by: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
HHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
HHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration