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posted: 3/27/2013 5:00 AM

Step up efforts to help mentally ill

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When AIDS came onto the U.S. scene, a loud hue and cry declared, "We must find a cure quickly, before it spreads across our country. We must have compassion." Our federal government heard the clarion call and quickly passed legislation for needed funds, and still does through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. The alarm was sounded and the pharma companies competed to find solutions.

Mental illness has been with us for centuries, yet where is this same rush for a cure, or at least for better meds? One in four people has a mental illness, far more than those diagnosed with AIDS. Where is the same compassion for the millions suffering with a mental illness?

The serial abdication of compassion, deliberation and leadership has economic and humane costs. Without the proper meds, the person with mental illness lives with the horrors and stress of his illness, but he could become a contributing member of society -- his most fervent wish. It has been proven that people with mental illness can be restored to normal health and enjoy their lives. With the proper meds, therapy and housing, costs can be reduced. We need immediate action from our lawmakers.

I lost my son, Donald, to mental illness and beg you to make recovery possible for the very people who are your neighbors and family members. Mental illness is an illness of the brain and can strike anyone at any age and income. Help us through National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national, family-based organization working toward recovery of your and our loved ones.

Gertrude L. Rodig

Arlington Heights

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