A presidential proclamation in 1990 focused attention on the high incidence of mental illness in America. Subsequently, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has annually observed Mental Illness Awareness Week each October. So, after 15 years of outreach and education and advocacy, of what have we become aware?

Early diagnosis works, whether for the second-grader, the teenager, the college student, the homeless, the jail inmate or the lonely elderly.

Access to treatment works, whether at community clinics, on the college campus, the hospital emergency room or the family physician's office.

The atypical antipsychotics, developed in the 1990's "Decade of the Brain," work. Don't allow failure on older medication before prescribing a newer.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) works for city police, sheriff's officers, campus police, jail attendants - to understand and protect the mentally ill while protecting themselves in the interest of public safety.

Drug courts, where 30 percent or more of the offenders suffer an undiagnosed mental illness. work.

Mental Health Courts work in appropriate disposition and treatment of persons with brain diseases.

Intensive treatment programs for mentally ill in jails and prisons work to produce lower rates of recidivism, aka recycling.

Integration of the treated mentally ill into the community works with supported employment and housing.

So, we have become aware that treatment works to restore personhood and productivity to people suffering mental illness.



Member of NAMI Oregon Public Policy Committee