National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Cincinnati, OH - Reverend Billy Graham drew 35,000 people to this city's Paul Brown Stadium last night. Statistically, according to the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI), which is holding its own national convention, "Building Communities of Hope" in Cincinnati this week:
"There are people in Cincinnati who feel left behind," Graham said. A few hours before, keynote speakers at the NAMI convention's opening session warned that mental illness is increasing, while services are worsening.
On Friday at 1:00 PM, the chairman of President Bush's newly-appointed New Freedom Commission on Mental Health-Michael Hogan, director of Ohio's Department of Mental Health-and Charles Curie, head of the federal Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will conduct a "listening session"-the first outside Washington, D.C.-on the growing crisis.
In today's Cincinnati Enquirer, columnist Peter Bronson writes about racial bigotry in the Tri-State region. However, prejudice and discrimination-i.e., stigma-also is "the most formidable obstacle to future progress in the arena of mental illness and health…manifested by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger and/or avoidance," according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
Billy Graham got it right. In order to build communities of hope, we need to love each other and work together-and that includes investing in recovery and ensuring that none of the 7,000 people in the stadium last night who will encounter mental illness are ever left behind.