Understanding Mental Illness
The Surgeon General's report makes two basic points. Mental
illness is a national crisis and our treatment of the mentally ill
is a national disgrace.
-Senator Edward M. Kennedy (May, 2000)
Voices of Recovery
The Mental Illness Education Project produces videotapes about
people whose lives have been touched by mental illness. Our videotapes
present genuine and touching portrayals of individuals with mental
illness in the context of their whole lives-personal and family
relationships, communities, treatment, recovery, and work.
Participants in the tapes include people with psychiatric disabilities,
other experts in the field of mental health, family members, treatment
providers, advocates, and employers. The tapes offer a balanced
view of individuals with mental illness as well as authentic visions
of recovery. We are opening hearts and minds and transforming individual
attitudes. We want, above all to be helpful and hopeful. The videos
we produce are designed to stimulate productive discussions among
all kinds of groups, and are known for their uncompromising professional
In the past six years we have sold an extraordinary 12,000 videotapes,
and each of our productions, from the earliest to the most recent,
continues to be in demand.
People with psychiatric disabilities need to know they are
not alone and that others with the same diagnosis have recovered
their hopes and their lives. They need to know that they can recover
their identity as people.
Mental health professionals need to learn more about the
options available to them in helping people with psychiatric disabilities
-what's possible and what works. They need to develop the empathy
that only comes from more contact with their clients as people.
Learning about successful and cost-effective mental health programs
will improve the nation's mental health care and at the same time
Families are a major support for their mentally ill relative,
but they are often excluded from the health-care process, and their
concerns are frequently ignored. Alienated from their relative,
they feel guilty, stigmatized and terrified. With better understanding
of the illness and the recovery process, family members become knowledgeable,
confident, and effective members of the treatment team.
Special audiences, such as legislators, employers, educators
and health administrators, should know much more about the possibilities
and requirements of good mental health care. Informed decision-makers
will allocate money, personnel and other resources more effectively,
improving care as well as saving tax dollars.
The general public needs a much greater sense that people
with psychiatric disabilities are first of all people like the rest
of us. The public needs to know more about the experience of mental
illness, as well as what steps to take to help someone who is ill.
Better understanding of the nature of mental illness will reduce
the destructive effects of stigma at every level. Above all, the
general public needs a restored sense of empathy and community with
those who are labeled psychiatrically disabled.
In the U.S. alone, mental illness impacts 1 in 4 families. Schizophrenia,
manic depression (bipolar disorder), other anxiety disorders, or
severe depression affect 12 to 16 million Americans. In the United
States, mental illness is the second leading cause of disability
and premature mortality, and the cost of mental health problems
is estimated to be a staggering $20 billion per year.
Stigma and fear compound the already difficult and complex problems
faced by people who are ill and those who support them-their families,
friends, co-workers, neighbors, and service providers. Stigma, attitudes
of fear, and discrimination against those with psychiatric disabilities
have their roots in lack of information and lack of understanding-exactly
the areas the Project addresses.
In a time of decreasing funding for psychiatric resources and an
increasing movement toward self-help, our videotapes are being used
more and more by institutions, professionals, consumers and family
members. They are used extensively for training by hospitals, mental
health centers, universities, and advocacy organizations. We are
well-known among professional and consumer organizations.
Each of us at the Mental Illness Education Project-from our board
of advisors, to the participants in our videos, to our staff-has
had direct, personal experience with mental illness. All of us are
passionately committed and uniquely qualified to create the enduring
portrayals that set us apart.
No one else is doing what we are doing.
We are embarking on an enormous undertaking. It is an area of great
need. We invite you to join our effort--we heartily welcome your
inquiries, your suggestions and your financial support.
Incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1990, The Mental Illness
Education Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
EIN 22-3075597. All contributions are tax-deductible.
I would like to make a contribution to The
Mental Illness Education Project. Please print this
form and enclose it with your check.
The Mental Illness Education Project, Inc.
25 West Street, Westborough, MA 01581
© 2000 The Mental Illness Education Project, Inc.
All Rights Reserved