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Mental Illness Awareness Week and National Depression Screening Day

Mental Health Matters

The first week in October 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 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 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 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 depression, and 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.  

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)

new! The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support via phone or text for people in distress. This shorter phone number will make it easier for people to remember and access mental health crisis services. There is also a web chat available 24/7.

Prevention and crisis resources, including posters and a magnet (available in Spanish), wallet cards, and safety plan pads, are available for professionals to download or order.


Looking for more information? Check out these mental health-related resources on WIC Works.


Updated: September 2023

Developed by
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau
HHS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
HHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
USDA, Food and Nutrition Service