Hurricane Katrina has affected thousands of people, some with mental illnesses.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established a dedicated fund, the NAMI Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund to help those in affected regions with mental illnesses.
“Living in a state that borders the Gulf Coast means that hurricanes are a fact of life,” said Teri Brister, NAMI regional leadership consultant who lived through Hurricane Katrina. “The two mental health centers that cover the coastal counties both sustained massive damage; staff lost homes, cars, and belongings.”
Mental Illness Awareness Week is Oct. 2-8 and is a national annual observance that was created by a Presidential proclamation in 1990 to focus attention on the high incidence of mental illness in America. Over the past 16 years the Week has become a tradition in the NAMI grassroots. During the Week millions of Americans will honor the challenges faced by mental illnesses and celebrate the recoveries their loves ones have achieved. Recovery is a real possibility, according to NAMI, largely due to improved science, better community support, and reduced stigma.
The late President Abraham Lincoln lived with mental illness and it ran in his family. Lincoln Melancholy: How Depression Challenged A President and Fueled His Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk is appearing in bookstores next week.
Oct. 6th marks Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day (BDAD), an important component of Mental Illness Awareness Week, according to NAMI. In conjunction with BDAD, NAMI is conducting an online survey to gauge public understanding of bipolar disorder.
During the Week and BDAD, NAMI affiliates work to educate policymakers, build community support, and increase membership.
As many studies document, Latinos face formidable barriers to receiving much-needed mental health treatment and often times received inadequate care.
NAMI is calling on advocates to join them for their 2006 Annual Convention in June.
For more information, go to nami.org.
In other hurricane-related news, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Texas held a benefit concert Sept. 29th, performing with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and bass-baritone soloist Timothy Jones, a Louisiana native with proceeds going to Red Cross efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims.
UNICEF kits have been helping displaced children. The agency’s “school-in-a-box” contains supplies for one teacher and up to 40 students and kits were delivered to Louisiana and Mississippi recently. The first shipment along with recreation kits was delivered in Meridian, Miss.