Letter to the Editor

Mental Health Awareness Month

Friday, May 2, 2014

If a news story appeared describing a national health problem that affected 20 percent of the United States population (roughly 64 million people), would it get your attention? Would you find it newsworthy?

For decades, we've heard how post-traumatic stress disorder affects more than 15 percent of our military veterans. The National Institute of Mental Health has consistently studied the incidence of the various mental illnesses. So we can say with certainty that 10 percent or more of us suffer from depression. Another 3 percent or more are schizophrenic. One in 16 or so of our children have Asperger's syndrome, or some form of autism spectrum disorder. Bipolar mood disorder is growing faster and faster, or at least the diagnosis of it. Obsessive compulsive disorder is rising. The point is that more and more of us suffer with one or more of these problems.

Every year, for the past 49 years, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has proclaimed the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. By calling the attention of the public to the existence and prevalence of the myriads of mental health issues people face, the hope is that citizens in general will be more informed, alert and able to be understanding of those who suffer. That can't happen very well if few people look at the available information and become better informed.

You are invited to visit the Southpark Mall the Saturdays in May, and check out the information available, in the vicinity of the fountain. There is no charge, and someone will be present to answer questions you may have. You will also find some helpful information about what it means to have good mental health. Not everyone is born with it, nor are those who are so blessed guaranteed to hold onto it. Truth is, it is more of an art than a science.

Bill Kersting


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