Press Releases

As The Hurricane Approaches: Don't Forget People With Mental Illness

Sep 15 1999

Arlington,VA - The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is calling on Federal, state and local authorities to seek out and protect homeless persons with severe mental illnesses in those areas located in the path of Hurricane Floyd.

"People with untreated mental illnesses are impaired in thinking, feeling, and relating to others or their environment" declared NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "Many are homeless. They may not be aware of media reports of evacuation plans. In a severe crisis, we sometimes too easily forget about the most vulnerable among us."

"The same principle applies to children, the elderly, and others with special needs," Flynn noted. "As a society, we must all help to look after each other. We hope people will be alert to this need."

NAMI's concern is prompted in part by the rash of deaths of people with severe mental illnesses in the Midwest and other regions during the summer, as a result of extreme heat temperatures. Nationwide, approximately 150,000 people with severe mental illness are homeless, living on the streets or in public shelters.

Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders, and include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and panic disorder.