South Carolina Department of Mental Health
2414 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29202
News Release

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2008

Contact: Alyce C. McEachern
               Office of Public Affairs
               Phone: (803) 898-8585

               Pager:  (803) 929-8668
               E-mail: acm83@scdmh.org


South Carolina Observes Mental Illness Awareness Week

Columbia, SC – On October 5-11, the South Carolina mental health community will commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week.  As part of this national, yearly observance, selected sites across South Carolina will offer free depression assessments to the public throughout this week and on National Depression Screening Day, October 11.

In South Carolina, it is estimated that as many as 800,000 people – one in five – have a diagnosable mental illness.  With appropriate treatment, recovery is possible.  However, many of those who are suffering from symptoms will not seek help, usually because of the stigma associated with mental illness.

The first week of October marks Mental Illness Awareness Week.  Established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress, the commemoration seeks to raise awareness about mental illness and its effects on individuals and families.  Each year, nearly 50 million Americans will experience a mental disorder.  During this week, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, clients and advocates throughout the nation offer public information and education programs on mental illness, and spread the message mental illnesses are as important as other illnesses, treatment is available, and it works.

Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day, created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is held on the Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week, and aims to raise the understanding and promote early detection of bipolar disorder as well as reduce the stigma associated with the illness.  Characterized by dramatic mood changes, bipolar disorder is estimated to affect more than 10 million Americans.

National Depression Screening Day, founded by The National Depression Screening Project, aims to educate the public about the signs, symptoms, treatment options and resources for this illness, which is one of the most common psychiatric disorders and one of the most treatable.  This year it will be observed on Friday, October 10.

To learn more about mental illness, South Carolina Mental Health Awareness Week events, how to find treatment, or locate your local mental health center, call the South Carolina Department of Mental Health toll free at (800) 763-1024, or visit www.scdmh.org.  If you would like to learn more about National Depression Screening Day, find a local assessment site, or locate a free depression screening site, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org.  To learn more about Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day, visit NAMI at www.nami.org.

The Department of Mental Health serves approximately 103,000 citizens including 33,000 children and adolescents with mental illnesses. The Department provides outpatient services through a network of seventeen community mental health centers and numerous clinics. It also operates four psychiatric hospitals as well as three nursing centers, including two for veterans

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