As president and CEO of The Acadia Hospital, a nonprofit psychiatric and chemical dependency treatment hospital serving northern, eastern and central Maine, I have frequent contact with courageous individuals and families overcoming the challenges of mental illness. With a history of assisting others as a psychiatric rehabilitation professional, I have enormous respect for the power of a supportive family member, provider or organization that maintains a belief in the promise of recovery.
I want to invite you to take part in an important community event at 10 a.m. May 9 at the Back Cove in Portland, as hundreds of concerned residents from across Maine will walk together to raise money and awareness for the Maine chapter of the the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI-Maine. Join us for this year’s walk for the Mind of America.
I, too, know the challenge to understand the illness, the strife of dealing with the array of service industries, and the hurt of stigma.
This is why I am a strong supporter of NAMI-Maine and the honorary co-chairman of this year’s Walk. NAMI-Maine provides precious education, support and advocacy to those who are directly affected by mental illnesses. Family to Family and Peer to Peer programs provide critical education to help consumers and family members gain knowledge and skills not just for surviving mental illness but also living a valued life.
Support groups established by NAMI-Maine provide treasured connections with others who understand the challenges and joys of living with mental illness. These connections provide vehicles for deeply personal and moving journeys of recovery to be shared; so no one must face this challenge alone.
Stigma reduction programs are another way that NAMI-Maine serves the interests of people and families experiencing mental illness. These programs draw attention to the inaccurate and hurtful language and portrayals of mental illness in the media and promoting understanding and respect for those who live with mental illness.
NAMI-Maine provides a key voice for state and federal public and private sector policies that facilitate research, end discrimination, reduce barriers to successful life in the community and promote timely, comprehensive and effective mental health services and supports. Our combined voices have more volume than one alone.
For these and more reasons, I have grand respect for NAMI-Maine. I am proud to support the 2009 NAMI Walk for the Mind of America. Working together we can make this event a success and in the process ensure that NAMI has the resources to make mental health recovery a success for every person in need. There are three ways you can be a supporter of this cause. Join a walk team or support a walker. Become an event sponsor. Or, provide a general donation. You can pursue any of these options by contacting NAMI-Maine at 800-464-5767 or by going to its Web site at www.namimaine.org.
Consider supporting this worthy event and be one of the many individual walkers and corporate sponsors raising money and awareness to keep this important community work going. You will be proud you did. I know I am.
Just remember, in the words of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
David S. Proffitt is president and CEO of The Acadia Hospital in Bangor.