Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Art auction to support mental health programs

National Alliance on Mental Health organization hopes to raise awareness

Express Staff Writer

The National Alliance on Mental Health in the Wood River Valley founder Tewa Evans, left, holds work by Gay Odmark and her own piece; alliance President Gail Miller Wray holds work by Rod Kagan. Photo by David N. Seelig

The National Alliance on Mental Health in the Wood River Valley has been operating for 10 years. Founded by Tewa Evans in 1991, the alliance serves as a resource for education, advocacy and support for mental health.

"We want to fight the stigma of mental illness," said current president Gail Miller Wray. "Education and information are important."

In a special fundraising effort, the alliance will hold a silent auction and gala benefit, "Mindful Art for NAMI," on Saturday, Nov. 22, from 6-9 p.m. at Iconoclast Books in Ketchum. Over 78 regional artists have submitted 12-by-12 panels to showcase their work, and they are now on display for bidding at Iconoclast Books.

"Every medium has been expressed," Evans said. "This is a community art show to raise awareness, and we hope it can be a yearly event.

"The response of the artists to this show reveals mental illness is a problem in our community. The artists see a need."

The gala will include wines donated by Thorton, Hayden and S&G wine distributors, food donated by Alberton's and Atkinsons' as well as catering by Esta. There will be music by Aaron Baker. Information on mental illness will be available and books on the subject will be for sale.

The alliance holds bimonthly meetings, the first and third Wednesdays, at the Sun Club in Hailey, but other programs are necessary. Money raised at the event will go to fund programs such as Peer to Peer counseling and to pay an executive assistant.

"According to the World Health Organization, Idaho ranks fifth for suicides in the nation," Evans said. "There are four to five suicides a year in Blaine County."

The World Health Organization has estimated that natiowide, one in five families is affected by mental illness. NAMI would like to help parents, teachers and educators identify early signs. The alliance has a referral help-line available 24 hours a day, and works with other programs in the valley such as substance-abuse and spiritual programs.

Major mental illnesses include depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress.

"It is treatable," Wray said. "Depression is the most dangerous and is linked to suicide, but it's the most treatable."

Bidding for the art auction starts at $100 and will increase at $25 increments. Half of the money from each work of art auctioned will go to the alliance and the other half to the artist or may be allocated to the Gary Hunt Hedrick David Children's Fund.

For details, call 720-9145.

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