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September 28, 2010                        

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402-471-4047) or

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Fight the Stigma, Fight the Illness

Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 3-9, 2010

Lincoln—Mental illnesses are medical illnesses, according to Director of Behavioral Health at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“When people realize that, there will be less stigma associated with having a mental illness,” said Scot Adams. “Many people in our community—friends, family, co-workers—are directly affected by mental illness. The good news is that treatment does work and recovery is possible.”

One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic disorders, such as major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

“The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it,” Adams said. “We want people to understand mental illness and not tip-toe around it. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or their loved ones get the help and support they need.”

Treatment can include peer support, medication and psychotherapy.

“Encouraging a friend or family member to get treatment can help them lead more fulfilling lives,” Adams said.

Poor mental health can result in lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, higher insurance costs and more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and courts, jails and prisons.
“It’s important for everyone to talk about mental health and address the problems that go with mental illness,” Adams said. “Only through an honest dialogue about it will we begin to get through stigma to reach solutions.”