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Rep. Napolitano's Free Workshops Promoted Mental Health in May

May 31, 2011
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Throughout the month of May, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano held five free, public mental health workshops in her district to help reduce stigma and raise awareness as part of National May Mental Health Awareness Month. The events were organized with the assistance of the 38th District Mental Health Consortium, a group of local experts, activists, and physicians who work to improve local mental health services and advise Napolitano on mental health.

“Mental health affects millions of Americans, regardless of race, creed or color,” Napolitano said. “For too long, stigma has made it extremely difficult to discuss mental health. These workshops help by getting the facts out in the open, and by showing families what resources they can use to help their loved ones.”

The workshops were offered in East Los Angeles, Norwalk, Hacienda Heights, Pomona, and at Rio Hondo College. Presenters Dr. Luis Garcia and Dr. Panayiota Courelli helped correct common misperceptions about mental health, and explained what local resources are available to help. Two of the workshops were conducted in Spanish.

“I learned it’s ok to have negative feelings, but you need to do something to overcome those feelings,” said Gloria Duran, of Norwalk. “And you don’t have to do it alone.”

“I never really thought of mental health as such an important issue before,” said Ide Sacco, of Hacienda Heights. “I wish I knew about it sooner.”

In Washington, D.C., Napolitano also helped raised awareness for members of congress and their staff at a series of events hosted by the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, which she co-chairs. These included a briefing with top military officials and mental health professionals on the latest mental health issues facing troops and veterans, a trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital’s Traumatic Brain Injury Unit to learn about how brain injuries affect veterans, and a “Mental Health First Aid” workshop, which taught participants the warning signs of mental illness and what they can do to help.

“These are conversations we should be having every day, not just during Mental Health Awareness Month,” Napolitano said. “All of our families are touched in some way, and by talking about mental health, we can learn that we are not alone and help is available.”

Background:

•           May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when groups across the country hold rallies and events to draw attention to mental health.

•           One out of four Americans suffers from a mental health issue (2005 Harvard Study)

•           State mental health programs were cut nationally by 4 percent in 2009, 5 percent in 2010, and are estimated to be cut by more than 8% in 2011 (Stateline.org July 19 2010)

•           Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 (National Institute of Mental Health report)

•           More than 90 percent of people who die from suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, commonly a depressive disorder or a substance-abuse disorder (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

•           70% of adolescents with mental health problems do not receive care (Journal of Adolescent Health, volume 38)

•           Mental disorders cost the U.S. economy $193 billion in lost earnings each year (American Journal of Psychiatry, May 2008)

National Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

 

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