Post-Hurricane Efforts Raise Profile of Mental Disorders

Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and other disasters have long-reaching affects; 57.7 million Americans experience a mental health disorder in any given year; the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other organizations, including Allsup, are raising awareness during Mental Illness Awareness Week

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Mental Illness Awareness Week poster

People living with mental illnesses often are among the most vulnerable in our society. Unfortunately, they also are often overlooked during disasters

Belleville, IL (Vocus) September 25, 2008

It is the storm damage that people often don't talk about--mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder that strike in the wake of a catastrophic experience.

Post-trauma mental conditions are one of many mental disorders that affect some 57.7 million Americans in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is observing Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 5-11, 2008. Organizations, including Allsup, which represents people nationwide for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, are helping to raise awareness about mental illnesses and the help available to people and their families.

Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and phobias, affect about 40 million people, NAMI reports. One in five veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (almost 300,000 troops) will experience major depression or PTSD when they return home. Other types of mental disorders also affect millions of people, including 5.7 million with bipolar disorder and 2.4 million who have schizophrenia.

"People living with mental illnesses often are among the most vulnerable in our society. Unfortunately, they also are often overlooked during disasters," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick, who recently announced the creation of a NAMI Hurricane Relief Fund to help individuals and families affected by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

NAMI makes a number of resources and support available through its Web site, including:

  •     About Medications: Find details on specific medications, dosages and treatment information.
  •     State & Local NAMIs: Get contact information for local associations through a state-by-state guide.
  •     Support Programs: Find support and build connections through peer-to-peer, family and caregiver offerings.

One of the most significant facts about mental illness is that two-thirds of people living with a condition do not receive treatment. During Mental Illness Awareness Week, the association is emphasizing the theme, "Building Community. Taking Action."

Mental illness can affect anyone at any time, and the benefit for individuals and their families comes from realizing that mental health is a part of everyone's well-being and healthcare.

Allsup is observing Mental Illness Awareness Week with free posters available to hospitals, clinics and other community groups by calling Karen Hercules-Doerr at (800) 854-1418, ext. 5770.

Media contact:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Christine Armstrong
(703) 524-7600
christinea@nami.org
http://www.nami.org

Free posters:
Allsup
Karen Hercules-Doerr
(800) 854-1418, ext. 5770
k.hercules-doerr@allsupinc.com
http://www.allsupcares.com

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