"I am not afraid of my mental illness now. It is part of who I am and I am living a full happy life. In the words of Sigmund Freud, "those with a mental illness want what everyone wants, to work and love"", said Cathy Leamy, who lives in one of Pathways, Inc's residences in Greenwich.
The National Alliance for Mental Health and Pathways, Inc. are working to break the stigma of mental illness during Mental Health Awareness Month.
"... awareness and prevention are effective ways to reduce the burden of mental health condition," said First Selectman Peter Tesei during a ceremony Thursday morning declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the Town of Greenwich.
May 1 marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month, raising awareness on an issue that affects many in the community.
"Statistics from the National Institute of Health estimate that 60 million Americans live with some type of mental illness," said Katherine Barba, President of Pathways, Inc.
"We estimate that 11,000 people in Greenwich alone experience some type of mental illness. It could be anxiety, it could be depression, it could be schizophrenia. Yet only about two-thirds of people statistically receive help, and yet it is so treatable. Help is out there," said Margaret Watt of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board.
Mental health agencies in the community say that those who need help, should know where to turn and not be afraid to ask for help.
"When my son became ill, I didn't know that Pathways exisited. It's a lack of information being put out there for the public. Until it hits your own home, I think you don't really look for these things. You go about your way but it's very important for people to realize that there is help out there," added Barba.
Rob Fry, President of the NAMI Stamford-Greenwich said, "So many of us have so many things in common, we just don't realize it until we sit in a room and have a minute to talk about what is going on in our life. So many people don't want to hear it but we do because we have it all in common."
NAMI and Pathways, Inc. will display white ribbons raising awareness throughout the town during the month of May. For more information about the National Alliance for Mental Heath Stamford-Greenwich, visit www.nami.org.