Mental illness awareness: a week to learn

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Mental illness becomes prevalent during adolescence and young adulthood. This week is Mental Illness Awareness week. (Courtesy of sandiegofamilytherapy.net)” height=”200


The National Alliance on Mental Illness wants people to take some time out of their busy schedule and learn more about serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The people of Dallas will get that opportunity this week which has been made Mental Illness Awareness Week.

“It’s time to make a difference through dialogue about mental illness throughout our community,” Marsha Rodgers, Acting Executive Director of NAMI Dallas said in a
press release.

Why is it important to understand mental illnesses? One in four adults experience a mental health problem in any given year. One in five teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 18, also experience mental illness. One-half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 and that number grows to three-quarters by the age of 24.

“Mental illness does not discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time. Fortunately recovery is possible. Treatment works—if a person can get it,” Rodgers said.

One of the major problems of mental illness is the time it can take someone to get help for his or her illness.

It can take up to decades between the first appearance of symptoms and when people receive treatment.

Less than one-third of adults with a diagnosis receive treatment. The same is true for less than one-half of children.

“The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it,” Rodgers said .

“That’s why Mental Illness Awareness Week is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join in conversations throughout our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the support they need.”

NAMI is celebrating Mental Illness Awareness Week through different events taking place all week long.

The first item on the agenda is when the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court will read and present a proclamation recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Commissioner’s Court.

There will also be a day at the State Fair of Texas with NAMI on Wednesday.

Those interested in attending should meet at the NAMI Dallas office, 2812 Swiss Ave., at 10:30 a.m.

The last event will be a reception NAMI is sponsoring honoring Achievement Through the Arts on Saturdayfrom 2 to 5 p.m. at the Continental Lofts, 3311 Elm St. where there will be food and live entertainment.

“You are never alone,” Rodgers said. “Know where to find help if it’s needed. Most people start with their primary care doctor. Many start by confiding in a close family member or friend. Don’t be afraid to speak up.”

The SMU community looks out for its students through the CAPS, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, program.

They provide psychological and psychiatric evaluation and treatment for SMU students and staff.

Consultative services and national and professional testing are also available through CAPS.

Some of the disorders that CAPS offers psychiatric help with include ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, social and other anxiety disorders, eating disorders, along with adjustment and personality disorders.

These conditions commonly become prevalent during a person’s college years.

On CAPS’ website they say that if these disorders are diagnosed and treated early, students can lessen their destructive paths.

If CAPS cannot provide all of the services a student needs, its staff will assist in finding appropriate care with clinicians around Dallas.

To get information on how to connect with other people around Dallas about mental illnesses, visit the NAMI Dallas website at namidallas.org or call (214) 341-7133.

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