Highlights

 

Kathy Carter Award

 

 

To honor Kathy Carter, the Coalition's first and retired CEO, the  board has initiated a fund to provide an annual Kathy Carter Award. The fund will be used for small grants for individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improving the quality of life for those with a mental illness. It will provide scholarships that will assist individuals who want to devote their lives to mental health professions. It will also be used to provide education or training for consumers to strengthen their effectiveness in advocacy efforts.

 

To contribute to the fund, please send your tax deductible donation to the Coalition office at 915 Southwest Blvd., Ste. A, Jefferson City, MO 65109.

 

 

Mental Illness: The Stigma of Silence

by Glenn Close

Huffington Post 

 

 

Mental illness and I are no strangers.

From Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction to Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire to Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Weber's Sunset Boulevard, I've had the challenge -- and the privilege -- of playing characters who have deep psychological wounds. Some people think that Alex is a borderline personality. I think Blanche suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and everyone knows that Norma is delusional.

I also have the challenge of confronting the far less entertaining reality of mental illness in my own family. As I've written and spoken about before, my sister suffers from a bipolar disorder and my nephew from schizoaffective disorder. There has, in fact, been a lot of depression and alcoholism in my family and, traditionally, no one ever spoke about it. It just wasn't done. 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".

Even as the medicine and therapy for mental health disorders have made remarkable progress, the ancient social stigma of psychological illness remains largely intact. Families are loath to talk about it and, in movies and the media, stereotypes about the mentally ill still reign.

Whether it is Norman Bates in Psycho, Jack Torrance in The Shining, or Kathy Bates' portrayal of Annie Wilkes in Misery, scriptwriters invariably tell us that the mentally ill are dangerous threats who must be contained, if not destroyed. It makes for thrilling entertainment.

There are some notable exceptions, of course -- Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, or Russell Crowe's portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind. But more often than not, the movie or TV version of someone suffering from a mental disorder is a sociopath who must be stopped.

Alex Forrest is considered by most people to be evil incarnate. People still come up to me saying how much she terrified them. Yet in my research into her behavior, I only ended up empathizing with her. She was a human being in great psychological pain who definitely needed meds. I consulted with several psychiatrists to better understand the "whys" of what she did and learned that she was far more dangerous to herself than to others.

The original ending of Fatal Attraction actually had Alex commit suicide. But that didn't "test" well. Alex had terrified the audiences and they wanted her punished for it. A tortured and self-destructive Alex was too upsetting. She had to be blown away.

So, we went back and shot the now famous bathroom scene. A knife was put into Alex's hand, making her a dangerous psychopath. When the wife shot her in self-defense, the audience was given catharsis through bloodshed -- Alex's blood. And everyone felt safe again.

The ending worked. It was thrilling and the movie was a big hit. But it sent a misleading message about the reality of mental illness.

It is an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once unspeakable, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness. This month, for example, NFL players are rumbling onto the field in pink cleats and sweatbands to raise awareness about breast cancer. On December 1st, World AIDS Day will engage political and health care leaders from every part of the globe. Illnesses that were once discussed only in hushed tones are now part of healthy conversation and activism.

Yet when it comes to bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, schizophrenia or depression, an uncharacteristic coyness takes over. We often say nothing. The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalize the people who most need our acceptance.

What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about illnesses that affect not only individuals, but their families as well. Our society ought to understand that many people with mental illness, given the right treatment, can be full participants in our society. Anyone who doubts it ought to listen to Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatry professor at Johns Hopkins, vividly describe her own battles with bipolar disorder.

Over the last year, I have worked with some visionary groups to start BringChange2Mind.org, an organization that strives to inspire people to start talking openly about mental illness, to break through the silence and fear. We have the support of every major, American mental health organization and numerous others.

I have no illusions that BringChange2Mind.org is a cure for mental illness. Yet I am sure it will help us along the road to understanding and constructive dialogue. It will help deconstruct and eliminate stigma.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2020 mental illness will be the second leading cause of death and disability. Every society will have to confront the issue. The question is, will we face it with open honesty or silence?

 


 

Sunshine from Darkness

Visit the Web site of the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Artworks for note cards, posters and other products. The museum-quality art is created by talented artists whose lives have shared the common bond of mental illness.

 

The mission of NARSAD is to fund research for severe and persistent mental illness, assisted by your purchase of holiday cards, note cards and gifts.

 

http://www.narsadartworks.org/

 

Prescription Assistance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands of Missourians Receive Assistance

from Prescription Program

 

A number of patient assistance programs provide help to patients who lack prescription drug coverage and earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level (approximately $19,000 for an individual or $32,000 for a family of three).

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program is operated by a coalition of pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, and patient advocacy organizations.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance’s Web site explains the program and provides application information: www.pparx.org. To access the Partnership for Prescription Assistance by phone, call toll-free, 1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669).

 


Prescription Discount Program

 

Together Rx Access is a prescription discount program for individuals and families who have no prescription drug coverage (public or private) and who are not eligible for Medicare.

To qualify, household income must be equal to or less than

§                      $30,000 for a single person

§                      $40,000 for a family of two

§                      $50,000 for a family of three

§                      $60,000 for a family of four

§                      $70,000 for a family of five

Most cardholders save 25% to 40% on brand-name prescriptions. The card is free to get and free to use.

Apply over the phone at 1-800-444-4106 or online:

 

www.togetherrxaccess.com


 

Patient Advocacy Organization Specializes in Prescription Assistance

SelectCare Benefits Network (SCBN) is one of America's leading Patient Advocacy Organizations that specializes in free medicine and prescription assistance programs (PAP). SCBN gives prescription drug assistance by helping its member patients locate, qualify for and successfully access hundreds of free prescription programs on an ongoing basis for only a fraction of the would-be retail costs for those prescription medicines. SCBN also works with thousands of doctors' offices and healthcare clinics to ease the administrative burden of giving medication help to patients through prescription assistance programs.

Call 1-888-331-1002 or visit the SCBN Web site:

Prescription Assistance with Patient Assistance Programs | Select Care Benefits Network (SCBN)