National Alliance on Mental Illness thankful to those who help break stigma with their support

info@islandpacket.comFebruary 15, 2013 

As a board member and volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I know firsthand the challenges of obtaining funding for a noble cause.

We are not raising dollars to save puppies and kittens, or children ravaged by cancer. Such causes as those arouse in us strong sympathetic emotions. Instead, when we hear "mental illness," we often visualize unkempt homeless people or homicidal maniacs with assault weapons. Mental illness arouses fear in many who do not understand the many shades of this debilitating disease. Most people affected by mental illness are not violent in any way. They are most often loving and productive people with an unfortunate affliction that makes them work twice as hard to live a normal existence.

Organizations, such as NAMI, attempt to break the stigma associated with mental illness, a misunderstood and even uncomfortable topic of discussion for many.

What Andrew Carmines and Hudson's Seafood House did recently exemplifies how those in the community can help. Hudson's held its inaugural Clambake, which benefited NAMI and was well attended by more than 175 people. The proceeds of this incredible event will go toward the many free education programs offered by NAMI to those in Beaufort County suffering from a neurological brain disorder and for their families and loved ones whose lives are forever changed by this cruel illness.

It is time that we begin to educate ourselves about mental illness.

Until this happens there will be continued tragedies, improper incarcerations and numerous hospitalizations that society ultimately pays for.

Marybeth Buonaiuto board member and volunteer Hilton Head Island

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