October’s Mental Illness Awareness Week is bringing renewed focus and passion to an issue that has been in the shadows far too long. More and more people are stepping up, speaking out, and fighting to increase awareness of mental illness.
“Supergirl” star Chris Wood is one of the latest to come forward with a powerful and very personal story of how mental illness impacted his family.
Wood teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to launch IDontMind, which encourages people to “break down the barrier of stigma surrounding mental illness and bring hope to those who are struggling and afraid to speak up.” The issue is one very close to the actor’s heart.
Wood told TV Insider about his father, who lived with an undiagnosed mental illness until his death in 2012. “No one knew how to deal with it, how to get him help. After months of no success and a quintuple bypass surgery that finally landed him incapacitated in a hospital, I was able to get him committed and into a state facility which, unfortunately, used a medicate-and-isolate philosophy of 'treatment.'”
"After two months he was released, and he began taking huge strides on the road to recovery, but the year of mental illness had caused his body too much physical damage. He died suddenly of heart failure in the midst of healing."
Wood, who plays the character Mon-El, also recruited some of his costars for the campaign, including series lead, Melissa Benoist, and David Harewood.
I've struggled with depression and had anxiety attacks since I was young. #IDONTMIND telling you that. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Whether it's you suffering, someone in your family, a friend--Let's support each other in talking about it and wearing the shirt this #mentalillnessawarenessweek with @idontmind
Wood went on to say in the interview: “A lot of people don't want to have to admit that they're having a problem, which is sort of the inspiration for the concept behind I Don't Mind. We're taking a common phrase that, out-of-context, you wouldn't necessarily associate with anything and making it a mantra for a movement.” IDontMind offers ideas for those who want to get involved in the movement, along with resources for those who may be experiencing mental health problems. And the site’s home page says it all: “Your mind matters. Talk about it.”
Over 16 million people in the U.S. alone face a major depressive episode every year, according to the National Institute on Mental Health—that’s almost seven percent of the adult population. The World Health Organization considers depression to be the leading cause of disability.
While there is no specific single cause of depression, it is believed that genetics, brain chemistry, and hormones, all play a role. It might also be affected by:
- low self-esteem
- anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- physical or sexual abuse
- chronic diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or cancer
- alcohol or drug abuse
- certain prescription medications
- family history of depression
There are many treatment strategies and medications that can help to treat and manage depression.
If you’re experiencing depression, you can call the following anonymous and confidential numbers:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline (open 24/7): 1-800-273-8255.
- Samaritans 24 Hour Crisis Hotline (open 24/7): 212-673-3000
- United Way Helpline (which can help you find a therapist, healthcare, or basic necessities): 800-233-4357
Kareem Yasin is a writer and editor at Healthline. Outside of health and wellness, he is active in conversations about inclusivity in mainstream media, his homeland of Cyprus, and the Spice Girls. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram.