From: Zoe Spitzer
Field experience student with Project COMPASS and NAMI
Winona State University
Mental illness affects every age, every race, and every gender. In the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) joins the mental health community to show our commitment to building our understanding of mental illness, increasing access to treatment and ensuring those who are struggling know they are not alone. Mental health is a primary concern in our society today.
• One in five adults experience a mental health condition every year.
• One in 17 live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
• Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14.
• 75 percent of mental health conditions develop by age 24.
These illnesses are not only affecting the person diagnosed but also family, friends, and the community surrounding them. Mental health has affected me personally. My grandpa was in the Vietnam War and now lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With this he experiences trouble sleeping, anger management, and at times is withdrawn.
We must fight the stigma against mental illness because it can happen to anyone, and no matter who you are you should be treated with dignity and respect. The most important thing to do is support each other and help each other get the treatment needed to conquer these illnesses.
Mental illness does not define a person. Here in Winona we have a NAMI support group, NAMI Connections, which meets every Monday night for people living with mental illness who want to work toward wellness. It is from 7-8:30 p.m. at the PSN building, 122 West Second Street, every Monday. One of the main focuses of the group is to see the person before the illness. This I believe is significant because a mental illness is an illness like any other illness. This support group provides a safe environment for all who come to share their stories of how they are dealing with their mental illness and it gives everyone else a chance to listen and offer their support.
Help spread awareness on mental health, so we can help everyone live their lives to the fullest. If you would like more information on this topic, contact Helen Newell, Winona affiliate NAMI president, at 507-459-2230.