ADHD Awareness Month: Breaking the ADHD Stigma

Demi Aspey
10 mins read
Sep 22, 2023

October is knocking on our doors, and with it comes something extraordinary (nope, not pumpkin-spiced lattes!)—ADHD Awareness Month. 

You heard that right; we're dedicating an entire month to destroying ADHD stigma, tearing down myths, and setting the record straight. 

This is not just any month; it's 31 days of unfiltered information, real talk, and impactful actions—all geared towards ADHD. 

It's spooky season and trust me, there's nothing spookier than living with ADHD and battling the lack of awareness in society.

So, I'll lead the way and ensure we all get out unscathed and feel more accepted as a result.

You're in for a powerful, stereotype-shattering month!

What is ADHD Awareness Month? 🗓️

Breaking it Down

"ADHD Awareness Month" is more than just a hashtag or a catchy slogan—it's a revolution. 

A full-on, turbo-charged campaign designed to raze the castle of myths and build a sanctuary of understanding and compassion. 

It's a mission, a movement, a call-to-arms for every person affected by or interested in ADHD. 

We at Deepwrk - the ADHD body doubling app - are not simply shining a spotlight on ADHD, we're recalibrating how society understands and responds to neurodiversity.

ADHD iceberg meme ADHD awareness month

The Core Mission

So what's the endgame? 

It's simple and profound at the same time: To eliminate stigmas and misconceptions that have clung to ADHD like vines on a wall. 

At Deepwrk, we advocate for real people, real challenges, and real opportunities for change. 

We're not just aiming for understanding—we're shooting for empathy, inclusivity, and most importantly, action.

The Origins of ADHD Awareness Month 🍁

The Humble Beginnings

Origin stories are the best, right?

ADHD Awareness Month started not with a bang but with a whisper—a grassroots spark that ignited a fire of change. 

And my, how it's grown! 

From local community talks to international recognition, it's evolved into a momentous event that educational institutions, healthcare organisations, and advocacy groups rally behind.

When is the ADHD Awareness Month?

ADHD Awareness Month takes place every October. 

Why October? 

Maybe it's the spirit of change that comes with autumn. 

Maybe it's just how the calendar cookie crumbled. 

But whatever the reason, October is the time when we all put our advocacy hats on and get down to work.

We will be ready gif adhd awareness month

Unmasking the ADHD Stigma 🎭

ADHD Facts to Remember

ADHD is thought to affect up to 7.2% of children under 18 years old, and up to 4% of adults globally (CHADD, 2022).

That's a staggering 200+ million adults with ADHD globally.

The aim of ADHD Awareness Month is to create understanding by spread reliable information about the realities of ADHD to combat the misinformation that affects the community.

The Vicious Cycle

Let's get uncomfortably honest for a moment. 

ADHD stigma? 

It's a monster, a behemoth that casts its ugly shadow over everyone diagnosed with ADHD. 

Being labelled "lazy," "irresponsible," or "unfocused", we're done with it!

ADHD Stigma ADHD Awareness Month

The Crucial Role of ADHD Awareness Month

Enter ADHD Awareness Month, the superhero in this story.

This is where we challenge the stigmas head-on.

Think of it as a societal detox, where we flush out misunderstandings and inject doses of truth. 

We're not just raising awareness; we're engaging in active stigma-busting. 

The Stigma Surrounding ADHD

In a Panorama documentary on BBC earlier this year, NHS representatives remarked that the number of people seeking ADHD diagnoses has surged twentyfold over the last five or six years. 

They describe this as a shift from "zero to a hundred miles an hour in the past couple of years." 

However, these comments seemed to lack empathy for the patients seeking answers; they express overwhelming frustration, urging people to "stop assuming you have ADHD because of something you read online."

The documentary implies that the sudden influx of patients seeking ADHD diagnosis is due to trending conversations on social media, without considering the historical negligence towards recognising and diagnosing ADHD, especially in women and girls. 

The fact that lived experiences are openly discussed online leads many individuals to recognise parallels in their own lives. 

Then they can choose to take action.

Let's be clear - no one wants to have ADHD. 

It's not a fashionable condition. 

It can be devastating, even life-threatening. I've found myself fearing for my life when I could not cope. 

Yes, receiving treatment has brought significant change, but it hasn't magically fixed everything.

It has, however, given me hope.

Along with therapy, research, and self-coping mechanisms, I am on track to turning my life into what I've always dreamed it could be.

The Searing Impact

According to the University of California, 23.5% of women with ADHD have attempted suicide, compared to 3% of those without the condition. 

As for those sceptical about the necessity of medication, a study from Harvard Medical School suggests that pharmacotherapy, particularly with stimulants, can significantly reduce the risk of major depression and suicidal tendencies in people with ADHD. 

ADHD medications stigma ADHD Awareness month

ADHD is a profoundly complex condition, and there's criticism that the DSM-V criteria don't fully address it.

If you suspect you have ADHD or question its legitimacy, I urge you to delve into credible research rather than being swayed by portrayals in the media or hearsay. 

ADHD is real, and its apparent increase in visibility doesn't negate this truth.

Years of inadequate knowledge and awareness have made the medical system overlook many people. When I finally received my diagnosis, I felt a profound mix of relief and melancholy thinking about the life I could have led. 

There's gratitude for where I am today, tempered with guilt for being unable to cope better.

These feelings are part of my journey towards making more informed decisions about my life moving forward.

Ultimately, what do we gain by treating individuals with a legitimate medical condition as though they're deceitful, lazy, or attention-seeking? 

The Desperate Need for a Shift

In an era that professes to "be kind," what purpose does it serve to invalidate someone's lived experience simply because it doesn't conform to our own perspective?

We've all encountered stigmas in various forms and intensities.

In the ADHD context, these often manifest as crippling labels that can limit opportunities and shackle potential. 

Imagine constantly doubting your worth, feeling boxed in by societal judgments, or having your skills overshadowed by a diagnosis. 

This isn't just a theoretical harm; it's a daily, lived reality for many.

People with adhd just focus meme ADHD awareness month

Here's where we change gears and throw the spotlight on the need for enlightenment.

The path ahead isn't just about generating awareness—it's about cultivating understanding, encouraging empathy, and creating spaces where ADHD isn't a mark of incompetence but a nuanced aspect of human diversity. 

From Stigma to Support: Building an Inclusive Community 🤝

The Road to Empathy

Are you ready to trade in your "Stigma" cap for a "Supporter" badge? I thought so!

We start this journey with a commitment to open conversations. 

The simple equation is this: the more we talk, the less we stigmatise. 

Open dialogues pave the way for closed minds to open and for myths to crumble.

Concrete Steps for Change

ADHD Awareness Month isn't just about hashtags; it's a catalyst for action. 

When we educate ourselves and others, we're not just collecting facts; we're assembling a toolkit for change. 

It takes a village to bust a stigma, and this is where collective actions like awareness campaigns, educational programs, and advocacy make all the difference.

high five the office adhd awareness month meme

Personal Stories: Triumphs Over Stigmas 🎙️

Real Lives, Real Heroes

If there's anything more powerful than facts, it's stories—real, raw, unfiltered narratives of people who've battled the ADHD stigma and come out victorious. 

These aren't just accounts; they're lifelines for anyone struggling with ADHD stigmas.

They're proof that it's possible to turn adversities into advantages, to pivot from stigma to success.

Why Stories Matter

What makes these stories special is the courage they radiate. Each narrative is a beacon of resilience, a testament to the human spirit's ability to rise above challenges. 

These stories serve multiple purposes—they inspire, educate, and most importantly, empower each one of us to face our own stigmas head-on.

The Importance of Raising ADHD Awareness 💡

The Butterfly Effect

Why does raising ADHD awareness matter? 

Because it's like a butterfly effect—small actions generate massive changes. When we raise awareness, we're creating ripples that can spread far and wide. 

We help people feel seen, heard and understood.

How to Raise Awareness About ADHD? 🙌

1. Enhance Your Knowledge

Read articles, research, follow thought leaders, and engage in webinars.

Talk to people with ADHD!

2. Explore Information Sources

A well-informed advocate is an effective advocate.

Dig deep into ADHD, so you're equipped to shatter myths with facts.

3. Raise Your Voice

Social media and ADHD is a double-edged sword.

Use its power to spread knowledge, squash myths, and build an informed community.

4. Engage in Activities

From community events to online forums, your presence and participation make a difference.

5. Support ADHD Organisations

These organisations are on the front lines of change.

Support them however you can—be it through donations, volunteering, or simply amplifying their messages

Busting 12 Common ADHD Stigmas 🙅‍♀️

❌ Myth 1: ADHD is not real.  

✅ And some people still believe the earth is flat.

Just because you think something is true doesn’t make it true.

ADHD is a very real neurological development condition that affects millions of people.

If you’re still not convinced, check our ultimate ADHD guide.

❌ Myth 2: Those who have ADHD are lazy and unreliable.

✅ ADHD may impair a person's ability to plan, prioritise, and complete activities.

This doesn't make them untrustworthy or lazy, but they may benefit from assistance in learning to cope with their symptoms.

ADHD Memes

❌ Myth 3: Everyone has “a little” ADHD

✅ I sometimes get a little cough, but it doesn’t make me asthmatic!

We’re all likely to experience ADHD symptoms at times; the real deal comes down to their persistence and severity.

Symptoms are on a spectrum, but they need to be disruptive in several areas of your life over extended periods.

Or you must have had them before 12 if you’re asking the DSM-V. 

❌ Myth 4: ADHD mainly affects males.

✅ ADHD affects both sexes, although it is more often diagnosed in boys.

ADHD may present differently in boys and girls, increasing the likelihood that females will go unrecognised, underdiagnosed and untreated.

Want to learn more about ADHD symptoms, misdiagnosis, and underdiagnosis in women? Head over to our ADHD in women checklist article.

❌ Myth 5: ADHD is overdiagnosed.

✅ Dismissing ADHD as “overdiagnosed” harms people who have a hard time getting a diagnosis, yet the symptoms of ADHD are genuine.

We’re now learning more about the condition, especially in girls and women, which may be why we’re seeing an increase in ADHD diagnoses.

❌ Myth 6: ADHD only affects young people.

✅ ADHD may affect people of any age.

ADHD is a lifelong disorder that may impact a person even if they were diagnosed with it as a child.

While prevalence may reduce with age, ADHD is severely underrecognised and undertreated in older age. 

❌ Myth 7: ADHD folks need to try harder.

✅ Encouraging someone with ADHD to try harder to concentrate, sit still, or be more organised is not helpful since ADHD is a neurological disorder, not a choice.

Instead, the symptoms of ADHD should be managed with a combination of knowledge, encouragement, and treatment.

❌ Myth 8: Medications for ADHD provide a "quick fix" for all symptoms of ADHD.

✅ Medication may help control the symptoms of ADHD, but it ain’t a panacea! 

To overcome the difficulties that people with ADHD confront, it is frequently essential to adopt a multifaceted strategy where medication may be one step in the journey.

It should be coupled with therapy, behavioural strategies, and lifestyle changes (sleep, diet, exercise) for the best results. 

❌ Myth 9: People with ADHD aren't intelligent.

✅ The intellect of a person with ADHD is unrelated to the condition.

Many people with ADHD are very bright, inventive, and successful.

ADHD symptoms may make it difficult to succeed in a more traditional classroom environment, but they do not indicate a lack of ability.

❌ Myth 10: Only hyperactive kids have ADHD.

✅ Hyperactivity and impulsivity may range from mild to severe among the three primary subtypes of ADHD.

While those with the inattentive form of ADHD may not exhibit the hyperactivity often associated with the disorder, they nonetheless have challenges with attention, organisation, and other symptoms.

❌ Myth 11: Ineffective parenting or lax punishment leads to ADHD.

✅ Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurological brain development condition.

Poor parenting, a lack of understanding of the condition, or a lack of discipline are not the root causes of ADHD, but they may exacerbate its symptoms.

❌ Myth 12: ADHD is a temporary condition for children.

✅ Although some children with ADHD may have a decrease in symptoms or learn to manage them effectively as they mature, for many others, the symptoms of ADHD may linger until adulthood. 

What’s on the ADHD Awareness Month Agenda? 📲

Keep checking in as our month will be jam packed with everything you need to know when it comes to ADHD!

And of course, if you want to do some reading in advance, we have a library packed with ADHD articles and resources!

Check our articles to find the best ADHD books or if you prefer consuming information on the go, have a look at our selection of the top ADHD podcasts.

Looking for your ADHD tribe?

Join us for one of our ADHD coworking sessions and get to know our neurodiverse community - we can’t wait to meet you!

Find your flow with Deepwrk. An ADHD body doubling app to get more done solo, not alone!
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Demi Aspey
Demi is the founder of the creative agency, Sonder Script, a culture columnist for House of Coco magazine, a part-time lecturer, and a soon-to-be Doctor in screenwriting. She is a scriptwriter by speciality and a copywriting cultivator by trade. Demi is a mental health advocate and was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.