To the EDN:
October is National Mental Illness Awareness Month which is an opportunity to learn about serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Mental Illnesses are no-fault, biologically based brain disorders which cause disturbances in thinking, feeling and/or relating. Persons living with these disorders deserve the dignity of medical treatment and a wide range of supportive services from mental health care providers and caring communities. Though the majority of individuals living with mental illness can successfully be treated, stigma and misinformation continue to be significant barriers to treatment.
One in four Americans will experience a serious mental disorder in his or her lifetime, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe anxiety disorders. One-third of homeless people live with mental illness. Ninety percent of persons who die by suicide have had a diagnosable serious mental illness. There are more people with serious mental illnesses in jail and prisons than in state mental institutions. As severe federal and state budget cuts loom within the coming year and threaten mental health services across the country, we will see people who do not receive a treatment end up in hospitals, shelters, in jail, or dead.
"People living with mental illnesses are our neighbors. They are members of our congregations, members of our family; they are everywhere in this country. If we ignore the cries for help, we will be continuing to participate in the anguish from which those cries of help come. A problem of this magnitude will not go away. Because it will not go away and because of our spiritual commitments, we are compelled to take action."-Rosalynn Carter
Let's take action by learning more about mental illness, its causes and the needs of individuals who struggle with it. As family, friends or interested community members, please attend the NAMI of NW Iowa Annual Public Forum on Monday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Maple conference room of the Spencer Hospital to learn more about "mental health first aid" that provides skills to work with persons who have mental health needs. Patrick Schmitz, a regional certified trainer, will give us information about this 12-hour interactive mental health first aid course being offered statewide. If you work with the public or have individuals in your immediate circle who have mental health needs, this may give you some information to learn more about how you can feel better prepared to work through difficulty situations.