DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
October 9, 2008 850-488-4855

Children and Families Joins National Alliance on Mental Illness to Host Rally for Recovery
~ Program recognizes National Mental Illness Awareness Week ~

      TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon joined representatives of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and local mental health advocates today to recognize the struggles and life experiences of individuals throughout the state recovering from mental illness. There are approximately 784,500 adults with serious mental illness and 331,400 minors with serious emotional disturbances in Florida today. Mental Illness Awareness Week recognizes those individuals and their families working toward recovery as well as those who have lost their battles with mental illness.

      "Mental illness knows no boundaries. It can affect all people, regardless of age, culture, income and education," said Sheldon. "We are here today because in some way we have all been affected by mental illness-whether it is you, your family member, or someone you love-mental illness has had a profound impact on your life."

      Sheldon, who served as the keynote speaker at a candlelight ceremony organized by local mental health advocates, was also joined by Clint Rayner, Chief of the Department's Mental Health Office of Consumer Affairs. Attendees also heard from representatives of NAMI and individuals who chose to share their personal recovery stories. Sheldon concluded the program by reading a proclamation signed by Governor Crist recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week.

      Throughout the state this week representatives of NAMI and Children and Families have worked to promote early detection and treatment of mental illness as well as to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This year's national theme "Take Action to Change the Nation" reflects the goals and recommendations of mental health advocates across the country to improve access to physical and behavioral health care.

      "Too often stigma stops those affected by mental illness from seeking treatment. It can also impair recovery efforts, and affect the availability of care," continued Sheldon. "But today, with the growing strength of Florida's consumer and family advocacy, we are breaking down those barriers and building a system focused on the individual, a system of community services and supports."

      "Recovery is possible," added Rose Marie Delaney, Consumer Advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Our message to consumers and their families is one of hope."

      The Department of Children and Families provides a wide range of mental health services through a network of over 450 substance abuse and mental health providers in Florida. This network serves more than 182,000 adults and 82,000 children and adolescents each year. For more information about the Department of Children and Families' Mental Health Program Office, visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/mentalhealth/


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