Dear Mrs. Obama, One of the last frontiers of discrimination, of lost lives, of lost talent, of abject misery, of blind prejudice and stigma is mental illness. As our first lady, we know that you have advocated for the health issues of children and their families in our society. We now beg you to consider joining our efforts to educate, advocate and provide support on a national level to the individuals and their families affected by mental illness. Severe mental illnesses are treatable disorders of the brain when caught early. Left untreated, however, they are among the most disabling and destructive illnesses known to humankind. For millions of Americans struggling with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, the personal costs of these debilitating illnesses are stigma, shame, discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, criminalization, social isolation, poverty, and premature death. One of the main reasons for not obtaining treatment is STIGMA. Following are some statistics: · The Global Burden of Disease study conducted in 2004 by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University, reveal that mental illness accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as the United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers. · The National Research Council and Institute of Medicine found that the cost of treatment and lost productivity due to mental illness in people under 24 was $247 billion a year. The cost of lost employment or decreased productivity and social welfare programs have been estimated at another $273 billion a year. (Reuters, Feb 17, 2009) · An estimated 26.2 % of Americans — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census, this translates to 57.7 million people. According to the NIMH, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S.. We are a "grass roots" organization of family members and consumers dedicated to providing education, support and advocacy for our local NAMI Affiliates. We continue to need leadership and national spokespersons to promote a better understanding in our society of the needs of the mentally ill and their families. Will you please consider volunteering your leadership for our important mission Thank you from all our hearts!!! Dr. E. Tropper, board member of The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Champlain Valley – NAMI-CV
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