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Programs bring focus on help for mental illness

Letter to the editor

According to the National Institute for Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov), over 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a mental health disorder, diagnosed or undiagnosed, or a substance addiction disorder, often both. Preventing suicide prior to a crisis involves more knowledge in the community about mental health, more education about the signs of mental health disorders and more understanding of effective treatment and recovery.

Mental illnesses, chronic diseases involving brain structure and function, are present in 20 percent or more of all people. There are increasingly effective treatments available for those who seek help.

Often early signs of mental illness aren’t recognized, and a person’s illness is first really registered in a crisis. What to do in a mental health crisis? Family members sometimes don’t reach out for help because they don’t know what help is available. We are so often afraid of what we can’t understand.

In the coming months, NAMI Albany will sponsor a series of programs on local resources for mental health crisis. Each of these programs is on the second Tuesday evening of the month, 6:30 p.m., Phoebe Northwest on Dawson Road in Albany:

On Tuesday, Susan Moore, compliance coordinator, and Phoebe Behavioral Health staff will bring information about crisis services available locally and access, admission process for Behavioral Health Services (including emergency room, direct admission, and transfers), and the involuntary admission process (including 1013 and court orders).

NAMI has more than 1,100 affiliates in all 50 states, as well as a national organization working in the areas of education, public policy, and legal affairs (NAMI — the National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org).

For more information on NAMI Albany, contact Pam Barfield at (229) 343-8791. To find the local NAMI website, search for “NAMI Albany GA Home.”

JERE BRANDS

Albany