Don't let mental health dialogue stop
I would like to thank the Daily Herald for the Feb. 1 editorial that said, "Until the public has a better understanding of the signs and best treatment of mental illness -- and erases the stigma attached to it -- progress will lag."
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As stated in the editorial, mental illness can affect us all in ways we might not think about -- police and fire departments, hospital emergency rooms, houses of worship, our workplaces. The cost in manpower to assist people in crisis, the loss of work productivity, and the emotional toll on faith community leaders who may not have training in mental illness issues is staggering. The families and friends of people with mental illness are affected emotionally and financially trying to get assistance for their loved ones.
We are well aware that the state has serious funding issues, and the kinds of programs we hope for may be a long time in coming. However, on a personal level, on a human level, we can all invest some time in educating ourselves about mental illness. These are illnesses that are biologically based. No one would wish to have a mental illness. These are equal-opportunity illnesses -- they affect people of all races, education, religious beliefs, ages and backgrounds. The signs of the illness are often not visible, so our instinct to say, "Snap out of it!" is common and especially painful to people working hard to recover.
Harrison Ford, in a recent Public Service Announcement, commented "Why is mental illness the only disease you can get yelled at for having?"
There are community-based programs that can help, such as NAMI Kane County North (www.namikanecounty.net), which offers education and support programs, at no cost. The Kane County Mental Health Council (www.kanecountymentalhealth.org) can offer guidance.
The last line of your editorial is important: "We must not let the conversation stop."