Mental illness affects everyone. Nearly 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year. Regardless of race, age, religion or economic status, mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in four adults and one in 10 children across the United States.
People living with mental illness need help and hope: they need a community that supports them, their families and their recovery.
Because mental illness devastates the lives of so many Americans, NAMI works every day to save every life.
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans
affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is
steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need.
NAMI is the foundation for hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates and volunteer leaders who work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs.
Since its inception in 1979, NAMI has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country.
Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in the NAMI's mission have produced profound changes.
NAMI has been the driving force behind a national investment in lifesaving research, parity formental health care, increased housing and to ensure that treatments and services are available to those in need when they need them most.
NAMI awareness efforts have successfully addressed the stigma of mental illness, ensuring the decrease of barriers to treatment and recovery. NAMI’s signature education programs have served as a beacon of hope for hundreds of thousands of families and individuals.
And NAMI’s support efforts expand to meet the challenges of a changing world by supporting virtual communities of help and hope to millions through NAMI.org and NAMI’s social media channels.
As the need remains, so will NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness
The Call to Conscience
By Peggy J. Symons © Copyright
Who are we?
We know the brain disorders that cause mental illnesses. Most of us live with them or have family members who do. Much of our know-how is drawn from our own life experiences and most of the donations we receive go directly into free services.
We have long set our sights on dismantling the myths of mental illness that generate stigma, fear and misunderstanding. Like the endless stream of smoke from the famous Freudian cigar, the disorders of the brain that cause mental illnesses are still shrouded in the foggy illusions of 19th-century psychiatry.
Mental illnesses are neurobiological in nature, yet they continue to be freely associated with the mistaken idea that severe and persistent mental illnesses are caused by childhood trauma or inflicted by dysfunctional families. Shame, blame and guilt, the unseen accusers of weary families, have spawned a trail of tears for a century. Families were not supported or educated, they were blamed and accused. They could not raise their heads or their voices so their suffering has been unseen and unheard.
In one of the cruelest hoaxes of the century mothers of children who had schizophrenia were named and blamed “schizophrenigenic mothers.”As these mothers watched this terrible disorder of the brain claim and destroy their children they stood accused as the mythically monstrous mothers of schizophrenia.
The intrusion of Freudian authority into the realms of the brain has been deep and damaging; it flat-lined the psychiatry of the brain for decades. Unfortunately, the myths that surround mental illness are still snapping at the feet of families like Venus fly traps with immortal roots.
Come with us, the National Alliance, and we will take you into the shadows and margins of America where people with severe and persistent mental illnesses really live; where bewildered families bearing the burdens of mental illnesses have no idea what to do or where to find effective help.
This Is Real World America.
Cost effective community care and hospital beds have been sliced from underneath the most profoundly ill as states slashed mental health funding. Hundreds of thousands of people living with mental illnesses are wandering the streets, penniless, severely ill and untreated, or worse, jailed far from the reach of any psychiatric care at all. People with these disorders of the brain are being jailed wherever they collide with Americans conscience.
They are usually arrested for relatively minor offenses that are more often symptoms of mental illness than criminal intent; they can’t work the ropes of release so they circle and spin in useless and costly orbits through criminal justice systems already breaking under the costs of criminal justice. Neither judges nor jailers want them there but there is seemingly nowhere else for them to go.
As funding for vital psychiatric services continues to dwindle, mental illness in America has become a virtual prison with no exit. In fact, there are now more people with mental illnesses in prisons than hospitals. As America’s mental health system continues to disintegrate the National Alliance has honored a call to conscience. We have become the nation’s hidden mental health system. Come with us and help us break into the nation’s jails and prisons where mental illnesses are now locked and shackled.
Join us in our deep concern that the flurry of state budget cutting means that the newer, more effective psychiatric medicines will be replaced by the old, inexpensive antipsychotic drugs first used in the 1950’s. Those of us who served time in the old psychiatric wards remember these primitive medicines for what they were, the chemical straitjackets of generations past. The use of these brutal drugs is seared into memory and archived in the truth of the times. Although some people do respond to these drugs, most of the time they only added to the breaking point of our illnesses. America must never yield to the temptation to return to the first-line use of these cheap and cruel psychiatric drugs.
Come and stand watch with us as the high-profile tragedies of mental illnesses keep coming and going. Time after time, they grab headlines and hearts. But wait with us while the news stories stop and the faces fade. Wait with us while the speeches, the horror and regrets just fall away into America’s archives of the forgotten where nothing ever moves or changes.
Shadow staff and volunteers fielding frantic calls from people who can’t access modern medications or find a hospital bed.
Pick up the phones in offices and listen to the desperate appeals of parents who can’t find or afford psychiatric care for the children. Child and adolescent psychiatric services are disappearing all over the country. Ninety percent of the children and teens who commit suicide have a diagnosable and treatable disorder of the brain. With no hope of help, many of these families feel like they are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. For these children and families, daylight is turning into twilight.
Mental health advocacy organizations are scrambling to support these families and provide them with information and strategies on early onset disorders of the brain.
Out of the chaos of mental illness in America, the truth is rising to the top to be told. Chronic underfunding, low priorities and the “politics of exclusion” have left our nation’s mental health system in a state of rubble and ruin. Decades of ruthless state budget cutting have created an even more powerful undertow of disappearing services and lost lives.
Come and join us as we go forth to lobby the U.S. Congress and the state legislatures for equal representation and for funding of critically necessary life-sustaining medications and services.
One in five families is struggling with these disorders of the brain, yet we remain little more than an ill-defined and optional constituency of conscience; without powerful lobbyists or large campaign donations it seems our political influence is reduced to nods and nothing.
What we do have is the power and influence of sheer numbers and the inalienable truth that mental illnesses do not diminish our humanity or dim our inheritance as Americans. But without action and reaction powerlessness perpetuates itself and injustice remains encamped.
The time has come to shake off the stigma that has silenced us and shake the dust of discouragement from our feet.
Above all, the basic unit of empowerment in America is true to its value: every person, every vote and every election matters. If are vigilant-if we vote and make ourselves heard-the “politics of exclusion” will have to yield to the politics of inclusion and conscience.
My deepest desire is that all of America will see the light of our humanity and proximity. This is the light that will reveal the deep shroud of silence and stigma that continues to cover the lives of those who are living with these disorders of the brain. When the light comes and the shroud falls away our names and faces will be known; we are your neighbors, your loved ones and friends.
"The words in this essay and the point of view are entirely mine."
Article by Peggy Symons of Deland,Florida
Peggy J. Symons © Copyright
NAMI thought you might be interested in the following
Web page -
National Alliance on Mental Illness:
"Peggy Symons Part I of III"
Follow the link below: