on need for mental
Express Staff Writer
week, Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, is dedicated to every one in five Americans
who, statistically, suffer from mental illness.
Blaine County Commission Monday signed a proclamation declaring this
week Mental Illness Awareness Week in Blaine County. The goal is to
enhance public awareness of mental illness and to promote greater
understanding for those who suffer from it.
Blaine County Commission declared Monday that this week is Mental
Illness Awareness Week. Wood River Valley-NAMI President Tom Hanson,
left, and Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary joined County Commissioners
Mary Ann Mix, Sarah Michael and Dennis Wright for the proclamation’s
signing. Last week, McNary received Wood River Valley-NAMI’s Law
Enforcement Advocate of the Year award. Courtesy photo
progress has also helped to alleviate the stigma associated with mental
illness, as more and more Americans learn about its origins and
effects," according to the proclamation. "Nevertheless,
because millions of Americans suffer from some kind of mental disorder,
we pause this week to reflect on this major public health problem and to
renew our commitment to better mental health."
of the week-long awareness campaign, the Wood River Valley chapter of
National Alliance for Mental Illness will host a candle light vigil
Thursday evening in memory of suicide victims. It will be at 7 p.m. on
the steps of the Old County Courthouse in Hailey and The Rev. John
Moreland will deliver an invocation.
River Valley-NAMI President Tom Hanson said fighting mental illness is
really about fighting incorrect social perceptions and trying to
eliminate the stigma surrounding severe mental illness. The stigma is
something he said is still prevalent in state and federal budgets.
there’s one thing we want to say right now, it’s that we need the
support of the community, the county and the state, to reverse the cuts
that are taking place."
to NAMI, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s budget was cut
significantly last year. The cuts resulted in reduced medical coverage,
personnel layoffs, reduced child care payments, reduced hospital
reimbursement, cancelled facility maintenance and implementation of a
preferred drug list that uses generic substitutes.
must vote for the legislators who will ensure that the limited public
dollars are used in the most effective way to protect access to the
newest and most effective treatments for illnesses such as
schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and severe anxiety
disorders," NAMI stated in a press release.
said 30 of 50 states regulate mental illness equally, requiring parody
insurance coverage for the mentally ill.
Evans, who founded the Wood River Valley NAMI chapter, pointed out that
Idaho ranks fifth in the nation for suicides, adding that Blaine County
leads Idaho in per-capita suicides.
goes hand in hand for mental health services," she said. "We
are 49th in the nation for mental health services. It would behoove all
of the people to call their legislators and pressure them to get our
Medicaid budget reinstated."
the fact that mental disorders are diagnosable and treatable, there is a
great disparity between the need for mental health services and access
or availability to services, according to NAMI.
25 percent of the 19 million U.S. adults suffering from depression
candlelight vigil in Hailey Thursday will help to bring awareness to the
"tragedy of untreated brain disorders," Evans said.
a stigma about it. It isn’t treated like a biological illness, but it
is," she said.