To the Editor:
May is Mental Health Month in the US.
The Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Health, Michael J. Fitzpatrick, recently cited a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that about one half of adults in our country will develop a mental illness during their lifetime.
Despite this stark statistic the public in general continues to deride, mistreat, or just ignore those who suffer from these terrible afflictions.
The St. Lawrence Valley Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-SLV) is dedicated to providing support for individuals with mental illness, as well as education for the public.
The membership includes those whose loved ones suffer with such diagnoses as depression, bipolar disease, and schizophrenia---the most widely publicized types---and people who have the diagnoses.
We meet monthly to offer support, and to plan activities which will bring some joy to the lives of those in the psychiatric center and those in the communities of St. Lawrence County. These activities range from providing holiday parties and entertainment to buying clothing and personal necessities.
Many people who have a mental illness diagnosis find daily life very difficult. The simple act of getting out of bed in the morning, going to an appointment, or buying groceries might seem like an impossible task. When people bully or ridicule them their struggle can seem worthless.
We ask you to consider what their lives might be like, and to teach your children to understand their problem rather than to make fun of it.
About fifty percent of us will experience some kind of mental illness in our lifetime so it is extremely important that we learn to accept and care for those who suffer in this way.
For more information about dealing with mental illness go to www.namislv.org or www.nami.org, or call the NAMI Information Help Line at 1-800-950-6264.
Sandra Tomalty,St. Lawrence Valley Chapter, National Alliance on Mental Health