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NAMI Fund for Hurricanes Gustav & Ike Disaster Relief to Help People with Mental Illnesses

September 16, 2008

Arlington, VA—The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established a special fund to provide relief to individuals and families affected by serious mental illnesses in Lousiana and Texas communities devastated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Donations to the NAMI Hurricane Relief Fund can be made on-line at www.nami.org/HurricaneRelief. One hundred percent of funds raised will go directly to individuals and families through local NAMI affiliates.

"People living with mental illnesses often are among the most vulnerable in our society," said NAMI executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "Unfortunately, they also are often overlooked during disasters."

"Stress, trauma and dislocation can worsen pre-existing mental illnesses or trigger onset in people who have never confronted serious mental health problems before," Fitzpatrick said. "At the same time, access to treatment is diminished. The impact of the disaster is greatly multiplied."

NAMI is also providing Disaster Relief Information Resources on its Web site to help individuals and families. In weeks, months and years ahead, residents of affected areas, especially children, may struggle with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the impact of the latest storms may be especially acute. At that time, NAMI distributed more than $100,000 to individuals and families in the Gulf region for phone cards, medical treatment, lab work, food, clothing, transportation, and temporary housing.

"NAMI is a consumer and family organization," Fitzpatrick said. "Recovery means people helping people. In the face of catastrophe, NAMI’s extended family and network of friends want to help."

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