Shapleigh, ME , May 09, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

Families for Treatment of Serious Mental Illness (TreatSMI), a nonprofit organization focused on advocacy, support and education for the seriously mentally ill and their family members, announced that it will be coming together with friends and fellow advocates for the first annual march demanding the right to treatment before tragedy for the 10 million Americans who suffer from a serious mental illness.  The Shattering Silence March will take place simultaneously in Washington DC; Augusta, ME; Sacramento, CA: Springfield, IL; Palm Beach, FL and Sarasota, FL, on May 20th, with a goal to raise awareness of the plight of the seriously-mentally ill: a hospital bed instead of jail, housing instead of homelessness, and an end to the criminalization of people with serious mental illnesses.
The March will take place from 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM, on May 20th, in each location, and is open to the public. Family members and advocates will be sharing their stories about the lack of access to proper treatment, loved ones revolving in and out of hospitals, jails, and the street, and how mental illness is criminalized instead of treated like the medical illness it is. Please see below for location details.

 “I don't know when this country lost its human decency towards its most vulnerable citizens, but it surely has and it's time to stop it,” said Jeanne Gore, President of Families for Treatment of Serious Mental Illness (TreatSMI). “We need a revolution and we need one now! If our children were afflicted with cancer or diabetes, we would not be waiting until they reached Stage 4 in the disease, or become a danger to themselves or others, before being able to access treatment. We owe it to our children—and their children—to provide a country where ALL of our most vulnerable are treated with love, care, respect and compassion.

 “Please join us in replacing stigma with honor, silence with voice, despair with hope, shame with respect, and ignorance with science so that in 2017, we finally get treatment before tragedy,” added Gore. “We hope to be adding more state capitals and cities to the list very soon.”

 “Our children are dying everyday,” said DJ Jaffe, author of “Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill” and Executive Director of Mental Illness Policy Org. “They are being abused, neglected, tortured, shackled, jailed, subjected to solitary confinement, naked in their cells, covered in feces, and left to die in our jails and homeless in our streets.”

 “Even the most tenacious mental health advocates in our Hope for Mentally Ill program hit insurmountable roadblocks, and struggle with endless red tape, to help family members get the desperately-needed treatment and social justice for their mentally ill loved ones,” states Kerry Martin, CEO and Founder of Hope Xchange. “This is truly a heartbreaking situation, given that most seriously mentally ill individuals suffer from schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. They obviously aren’t in a position to advocate for themselves, not to mention navigate a woefully inadequate and totally underfunded mental health care system.” Hope Xchange is a patient advocacy nonprofit focused on preventing suicide and improving mental health outcomes in the most vulnerable and high-risk populations—youth, LGBTQA+ and bipolar communities—and is actively supporting the Shattering Silence March.

 Shattering Silence March Locations:

Washington, DC— Capitol Ground (Upper Senate Park – Area 2)

Augusta, ME— Between Cross Office Building and State House

Sacramento, CA— Cesar Chavez Plaza, 910 I Street

Palm Beach, FL— Southern Boulevard Bridge

Sarasota, FL— Federal Building, 111 South Orange

Springfield, IL— Area by the Lincoln Square, 401 S 2nd Street

Important links:

http://www.shatteringsilence.org

About the Seriously-Mentally Ill Population

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) estimates there are 10 million Americans suffering from a serious mental illness. [1] The DMS categorizes serious mental illnesses as those that result in functional impairment which substantially interferes with, or limits, one or more major life activities. It’s estimated that 4% of all mental illnesses are serious mental illnesses.  These include “schizophrenia-spectrum disorders,” “severe bipolar disorder,” and “severe major depression,” as specifically and narrowly-defined in DSM.”[2] In addition to these disorders, people who suffer with severe forms of obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder, are also functionally impaired.

As many as 40% (Torrey & Zdanowicz, 2001) and 90% (Wilson, Ban, & Guy 1986) of people with a serious mental illness also suffer from anosognosia, a neurological condition that robs them of the ability to know they are sick. This means they will never ask for help on their own.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s research paper, Serious Mental Illness and Treatment Prevalence, published in 2016 states, “For the past 20 years, studies have consistently estimated that 40% to 50% of all individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are receiving no treatment for their mental illness at any given time. According to disease prevalence estimates of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and US Census Bureau data, this suggests 3.85 million people with the most severe psychiatric diseases were untreated in 2015.”[3]

About Families for Treatment of Serious Mental Illness (TreatSMI)

Founded in 2015, Families for Treatment of Serious Mental Illness (TreatSMI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating at the state and local levels for treatment, programs, services, housing and care for those diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, and to provide support and education programs to families and caregivers.

TreatSMI goals are to provide a strong grassroots advocacy network and offer support groups and classes aimed at dealing with the complex issues confronting families of those suffering from a serious mental illness.

We are the only U.S. based national organization that:

  • Pertains exclusively to the 4% of mental illnesses considered to be serious
  • Has a membership exclusively of family members and caregivers of those suffering from a serious mental illness
  • Offers associate level membership to extended family members and professionals who encounter, or work with, individuals with a serious mental illness

[1] Schizophrenia-spectrum disorders include schizoaffective disorder, catatonic schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, and disorganized schizophrenia. In DSM, “severe bipolar” requires more symptoms than bipolar disorder. As in DJ Jaffe’s book, Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill, we shorten both to bipolar because there are not enough statistics that separate out the two. In DSM, “severe major depression” requires more symptoms than either “depression” or “major depression.” American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

[2] Schizophrenia-spectrum disorders include schizoaffective disorder, catatonic schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, and disorganized schizophrenia. In DSM, “severe bipolar” requires more symptoms than bipolar disorder. As in DJ Jaffe’s book, Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill, we shorten both to bipolar because there are not enough statistics that separate out the two. In DSM, “severe major depression” requires more symptoms than either “depression” or “major depression.” American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

[3] http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/key-issues/anosognosia/3638-serious-mental-illness-and-treatment-prevalence

Jeanne Gore
207-206-8515
TreatSMI@gmail.com