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Organization enlightens about mental illness

Through the combined efforts of N.A.M.I. Albany, The Bradley Center of Columbus and the N.A.M.I. Columbus affiliate, an enlightening educational program was presented on Feb. 14 at Phoebe Northwest.

I.O.O.V. (In Our Own Voice) addressed the many issues facing anyone with brain disorders, by them, and in their own words.

Statistics continue to show that one in four individuals are dealing with some form of mental illness, be it depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, drug dependency, post traumatic stress disorder or a laundry list of others.

As evidenced by the marked increase in criminal activity and the burgeoning prison population, it is time we faced facts and work to change these statistics.

The first step must be in eliminating the stigma. We would not unfairly judge nor look askance at anyone suffering a physical injury or disability. Why, then, do we fail to understand and empathize with those suffering with a brain disorder? Just as the wiring in an appliance can malfunction, so too can the intricate wiring in the human brain misfire, resulting in behavior or habits deemed abnormal or "different."

Much progress has been achieved in recent years through the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and it is a proven fact that with an accurate diagnosis, proper treatment and understanding, many of these issues can be dealt with and overcome, allowing formerly chastised individuals to live productive and valued lives.

N.A.M.I. Albany is pleased and proud of the growth we have attained, and grateful for the tremendous support from Columbus and our surrounding communities, who are now forming their own affiliates and support groups to educate and assist families and individuals. N.A.M.I. support groups meet twice monthly at Phoebe Northwest and for further information on the N.A.M.I. programs, you can go to the N.A.M.I. website at www.nami.org. or call our contact members -- Alan at (229) 883-3191 or Pam at (229) 343-8791. There is hope!

MARTY HELDENBERG

Parrott