HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Every day, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition.

Mental Health. That two-letter word is one that most tend to shy away from. And in some communities, it’s a taboo.

That’s why October 6 – October 12 is “Mental Illness Awareness Week.” The week, established back in 1990, serves to educate and raise awareness about mental illnesses and its impact on people; in addition to replacing the stigma around mental illness with hopes for treatment and recovery.

A lot of people don’t access treatment because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. Statistics show that 50 percent of the whole population is diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life.

It can be anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. And anyone anywhere can be affected.

“It’s very prevalent and untreated mental health can have significant effects on physical health,” said Washington County Health Department, Behavioral Health program director, Victoria Sterling. “It also can decrease your life expectancy if it goes untreated by like 25 %, so really just opening up and being educated can really help.”