“Twice as many people live with schizophrenia than with HIV/AIDS, yet many people know little about the disease that affects nearly 2.5 million Americans.”
“Sometimes called ‘manic depression’ due to the severe mood swings, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million Americans.”
As with alcoholism, centuries of stigma, shame and ignorance have created a “deep reservoir of confusion about mental illness.” As such, people with mental illness and their families grapple in isolation and/or find themselves in a swirl of conflicting messages as they flail from one diagnosis, treatment regime, medicine(s), hospital and/or therapy program to another. As with alcoholism, this confusion perpetuates the underlying mental illness, often allowing it to progress, hijacking the lives of the person with the mental illness and their families as each tries to bring their ‘take,’ ability and willingness to the effort of finding a resolution.
A friend of mine from NAMI Santa Clara told be about this program and website, Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness, which “connects the dots between personal dilemmas facing individuals and families who are living with mental illness, medical practices that can be obstacles to treatment, and public policies that all too often fall short in providing support that could make a positive difference.” There you will find more information related to the opening statistics and much, much more, such as:
As you’ve likely read on this blog before, just over half of persons who abuse and/or are dependent on alcohol (alcoholics), have had a co-occurring mental illness (aka dual diagnosis) at some time in their lives. If you have an inkling or are concerned in anyway about your or a loved one’s mental health, I urge you to check out this website for program information or any one of the following additional resources:
The Center for Mental Health Services of SAMHSA has a Consumer Affairs Program that plays a lead role in developing and implementing consumer information activities, supporting consumer-operated networks and coordinating CMHS anti-stigma efforts.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can connect you to peer to peer programs across the country for people with mental illnesses and for families and caregivers. NAMI also offers training programs for consumers and family members who want to provide education and support to their peers.
Mental Health America can help you to find support groups and peer to peer programs offered through many organizations, including organizations with a particular focus on particular illness, issue, or age group.
Alcoholism and mental illnesses are brain diseases for which there is 21st Century research and 21st Century discoveries — research and discoveries that are changing how we treat these diseases. The important take away here is that these are treatable diseases from which a person can recover and enjoy a happier, healthier life.