Important to recognize mental illness |

Important to recognize mental illness

Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 6-12) is an important annual opportunity to learn more about mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

It's an opportunity to make a difference.

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time. Fortunately, recovery is possible. Treatment works but only if a person can get it. Most mental illness begins by age 24. Unfortunately, there are long delays — sometimes decades — between the first appearance of symptoms and when a person gets help.

Everyone needs to understand the nature of mental illness and learn the symptoms of different conditions. Fact sheets about specific diagnoses and treatment options are available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness at Please browse them and share or mention them to family and friends.

The SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center in Grass Valley is open at no charge to people facing challenges to their mental health. Trained peer counselors offer acceptance, support, education and advocacy. Services include peer counseling, support groups, hot showers, laundry facility, service-to-Service referrals, food distribution, weekly brunch and holistic health alternatives. All services are free and confidential. Visit for information or call 530-274-1431.

Know where to find help for yourself or others in case it's ever needed. Most people start with their primary care doctor. Many may start by confiding in a close family member of friend. When they do, it's important to take their concerns seriously.

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Don't be afraid to speak up or reach out. The U.S. surgeon general has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it. That's why Mental Illness Awareness Week is observed. The more people know, the better they can help for themselves or their loved ones.

Marsha Lanier, MSW

Spirit Peer Empowerment Center community outreach specialist

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