September 2, 2005
Arlington, VA—The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established a special dedicated fund to help provide relief to individuals and families affected by serious mental illnesses in the Gulf region left devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Donations to the NAMI Katrina Hurricane Relief Fund can be made on-line at www.nami.org or at any Wachovia bank nationwide (Account #200024603407).
NAMI has made initial contact with state departments of mental health in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas and will be working to coordinate and supplement local relief efforts through cash assistance and NAMI's national network of affiliates and volunteers.
"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 among the most marginalized."
"In the face of a profound catastrophe that has destroyed communities in the Gulf states, we must make sure they are not forgotten. The NAMI family and our network of friends want to help."
An estimated 220,000 persons in Louisiana, 220,000 in Alabama and 140,000 in Mississippi live with serious mental illnesses, which include major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia. The number may be closer to a million by less conservative estimates.
Pre-existing conditions can be worsened by trauma or dislocation. Traumatic or stressful events also may trigger the onset of mental illnesses.
NAMI's national Web site offers lists of psychiatric resources in the states affected by the disaster, including Texas, along with special electronic message boards for those seeking to locate missing persons with mental illnesses in the region or messages from those seeking to contact family and friends.