National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Mental Illness: Political Candidates Are Not Immune From Stigma; Plus the Latest on the NAMI Blog
October 14, 2010
Arlington, Va. -- In the NAMI Blog this week, Mike Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, writes: "Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike."
Fitzpatrick calls for dialogue on the nation's mental health crisis during the closing weeks of Election 2010, encouraging voters to look beyond "horse race" headlines and candidate attack ads.
"Personally, as a former state legislator, I have always found it most important to ask people what they are for rather than against in order to build common ground."
Politics and Stigma
In a political mud-slinging story also published this week in the new issue of the NAMI Advocate magazine, NAMI examines stigma surrounding mental illness and candidates for public office. "Presidents, governors and legislators are not immune" from mental health problems the article notes.
The most infamous examples of stigma-slinging occurred against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign and Senator Thomas Eagleton during the 1972 campaign. In part, Goldwater had experienced two "nervous breakdowns" in his early business career. Eagleton was forced to withdraw as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate because of a history of treatment for depression.
The NAMI Advocate story notes that two of the four American presidents carved on Mount Rushmore, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, lived with depression.
Election 2010 Has its Examples
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1,100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy. NAMI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse political candidates.
NAMI Election 2010 Series
Since Labor Day, NAMI has issued as series special alerts to editors, reporters, bloggers and others, encouraging them to ask candidates about the nation's mental health crisis. Are candidates addressing the facts? The series includes state by state data.
Join NAMI as a member to receive the full print magazine or access to it on the NAMI Website. NAMI also publishes a monthly e-Advocate newsletter with open access on the NAMI website. In addition to politics and stigma, the current issue of the magazine includes articles titled "What are They Thinking?" on the latest trends in research and diagnosis, "Athletes and Mental Illness: Major League Baseball Steps Up to the Plate," and "The Role of Service Animals in Recovery."