It’s that that time of year again….as we leave summer behind and celebrate the fall season with NAMI’s Southwestern PA’s annual walk on Sunday October 1, 2017.As we embark on another exciting year, I have some exciting news to share.In July 2016, NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania was selected to become the official state NAMI organization in Pennsylvania. NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania was chosen as the new name. The designation gives Pennsylvania a unified voice in advancing NAMI’s mission of providing recovery-focused support, education, and advocacy to individuals and families affected by mental illness. The organization you know so well, NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania, still exists as a regional affiliate and will continue to serve the 10 counties of the Southwest region.Last year was also exciting for me as I was elected to serve on NAMI’s National Board and currently serve as the Board President of NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania.
With these exciting changes, I am asking for the continued support of my colleagues, family and friends to get behind me and support the largest grassroots organization in the United States to spread awareness through education and advocacy to STOMP OUT STIGMA.
As a psychologist and family member, participating in the walk has given me the platform to continue my voluntarism by advocating for the needs of children, adolescents, adults and families who are struggling with mental health issues. At NAMI’s national conference in Washington. D.C. hundreds of NAMI members and their families marched on Capitol Hill to address the disparities that exist in mental health care and the need to continue coverage for mental health conditions. My niece McKenzie accompanied me to this conference and talked with politicians in our state about the importance of health care for families. She just started college at the University of Louisville in Kentucky and promises to continue her advocacy on behalf of youth and their families affected by mental health conditions.
Over the past several years as I have made my appeal, I have stressed that mental illness is common and affects 1 in 5 adults and also 1 in 5 children. We all know someone in our family, our work, our place of worship or in our social network who may be experiencing a mental health disorder. Despite the commonality of mental illness, stigma continues to exist in our society and it needs to be STOMPED OUT. NAMI can do this with your continued donations to achieve this goal through their various programs, support groups, trainings, and conferences.
As you all know by now, I continue to throw in some statistics that highlight the commonality of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety which affects millions of individuals including children and adolescents every year…that suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 15-24 years of age…that 75% of mental health conditions start by age 24…that 70% of children with a known diagnosis don’t receive mental health services!I could go on and on! Many of you are just as passionate as I am, and I know I can count on you for your continued support. As the Board President for NAMI, Keystone and now a representative on NAMI’S National Board, I need to continue our mission to promote mental health awareness, through education and advocacy so that we all understand the prevalence of mental illness in our society, and begin to recognize that the treatment of mental health conditions is no different than treating hypertension, asthma, diabetes, obesity and any other medical condition.The key points that I want to emphasize as we prepare for our 11th walk are:
Mental illness is common
There are warning signs and don’t ignore them
NAMI needs your help to stomp out stigma
Please consider all that I have shared and meet me on the Waterfront in Homestead as we support NAMI together.Please make a donation today and see you Sunday, October 1st.