Two months ago, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., shined a spotlight on two crucial issues: guns and mental health. Nationally, much of the attention has focused on gun laws and President Obama's call to strengthen them. But today, North Texas is focused on mental health -- and how to deal with mental illness.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will join KERA and The Dallas Morning News tonight in sponsoring a public forum at the City Performance Hall called “Erasing the Stigma: Mental Illness and the Search for Solutions.”
KERA's Lee Cullum will moderate the discussion, which will feature four panelists:
- State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), who will talk about living with bipolar disorder.
- Dr. Preston Wiles, psychiatry professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
- Vanita Halliburton, who created the Grant Halliburton Foundation in memory of her son, who battled depression and bipolar disorder before taking his own life at age 19.
- Matt Roberts, president of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.
1) What Is Mental Illness?
Simply put, a mental illness is a medical condition that interferes with a person's ability to function and relate to others. Mental illness can affect anyone of any background. A few of the more serious mental illnesses include depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
In this video, UT Southwestern Medical Center psychiatrists Drs. Adam Brenner and Preston Wiles (who is featured in the symposium this evening) answer some frequently asked questions about mental illness.
For more background and facts on mental illness check out the website of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
2) How Big Is The Problem Among Children And Young Adults?
The majority of mental health disorders begin in childhood or adolescence – about 75 percent by age 24. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that as many as one in 10 American children and adolescents have "significant functional impairment" because of a mental health disorder.
According to NAMI, common mental health conditions for children and youth include anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity and autism spectrum condition.
If you suspect your child has any of these issues, check out NAMI’s treatment and services resource.
3) Where Should I Look For Help In North Texas?
- The Texas Department of State Health Services' list of Crisis Hotlines.
- Metrocare: A North Texas nonprofit that helps people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and severe emotional problems.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness of Texas: A nonprofit with 45 local affiliates throughout Texas. NAMI provides a variety of education and support to mental health consumers, family and friends.
- NorthStar: A publicly funded behavioral health program serving seven counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
- Dallas Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: A nonprofit run by individuals with mood disorders and their significant others.
- Denton County Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health: A local chapter of the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health addressing the needs of children and youth with emotional, behavioral or mental disorders and their families.
4) What Should I Do In A Crisis Situation?
If it is a medical emergency, dial 9-1-1.
If you are contemplating suicide, call one of the following:
- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or TTY 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)
- Red Nacional de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454
For free information and referrals to health and human service agencies in Texas, dial 2-1-1.
5) How Can I Help?
Become a member of NAMI Texas
Volunteer at a suicide prevention center in Texas:
- Dallas Suicide Prevention Coalition
Margie Wright, firstname.lastname@example.org
- I AM HERE Coalition, Dallas Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition
(972) 744-9798; email@example.com
- Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas
(214) 824-7020; firstname.lastname@example.org