"The stigma is toxic. And, like millions of others who live with mental illness in their families, I've seen what they endure: the struggle of just getting through the day, and the hurt caused every time someone casually describes someone as 'crazy,' 'nuts' or 'psycho.'" --Glenn Close on The Huffington Post, Oct. 21, 2009
Mountain View, CA - April 23, 2010 - Close's heart-rending comment resonates with anyone who has ever suffered a mental illness--as well as their family and loved ones. Despite decades of effort to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues, there still are significant barriers to effective treatment--including lack of recognition of the seriousness of the problem and the benefits of treatment, as well as fear of public discrimination.
That's why El Camino Hospital in Mountain View is hosting a full week of educational lectures, group discussions and other assistance for the community during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 3rd to May 7th). From a film on Bipolar Disorder, a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) program to help individuals share their stories of illness and recovery, and a presentation for artists with disabilities, to family panels and discussions of eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-partum depression and suicide prevention, the programs are designed to address a broad spectrum of the Peninsula and South Bay community's needs and concerns.
"Recent local events have served to underscore the tremendous need for these programs," said Digant Dave, MS, RN, a clinical manager in El Camino Hospital's Behavioral Health Services department. "Several recent tragic teen suicides have prompted dozens of calls a week from parents worried about their children's stability and mental health. We get daily calls from individuals and families struggling with mental illness. One of the biggest goals of our week-long series of programs is to help people realize they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them."
Among the many speakers scheduled throughout the week will be KCBS news veteran Jeff Bell, the author of Rewind, Repeat, Replay, a personal memoir of his struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder. Others include Dr. Douglas Levinson, Stanford professor and schizophrenia researcher; Mary and Vic Ojakian, a former mayor of Palo Alto who will talk about living with the loss of a loved one, and Sharon Roth, a nurse who is an advocate and educator for non-violent ways to deal with mentally ill individuals. The hospital even has a simulator where participants can experience what it feels like to have hallucinations.
The programs take place throughout the week, from late morning into early evening. See more information and register for the events.