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Baseball and Mental Illness: Something to Cheer About?

Photo: Keith Allison / Flickr

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

Who’s on first?

As Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct., 7-13, unfolds, baseball teams are slugging it out in play-off games that will ultimately lead to the World Series, Oct. 24-29.

In the Nashville Tennessean this week, E. Douglas Varney, commissioner of the Tennessean, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, has published an article noting that 20 million Americans will watch the World Series on television.

Thousands more will spend an average of $500 to watch a game in person.
About 20 million American adults are diagnosed with serious mental illness, Varney observes.

Yet according to figures compiled by NAMI in 2006, per capita spending by states on mental health services ranged from about $50 to only $250.

“Mental illness can happen to anyone, even the players on the field,” Varney writes in the Tennessean. “In fact, San Francisco Giants’ first baseman Aubrey Huff went on the 15-day disabled list earlier this season after he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Now he’s leading his team in the playoffs.”

That’s something to cheer about.

And to think about during MIAW.

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