To the Editor:
Jonathan Burke deserves our gratitude and appreciation for his insightful and relevant series on mental illness. His articles have helped bring a difficult and mystifying problem into a tangible and thoughtful light. We are only beginning to dissipate the profound misunderstanding and stigma that cause so many to suffer as though they were alone. As these complex but very common illnesses are moved out of our closets to where they can be plainly seen, we can educate ourselves and our communities, and raise the awareness needed to move our healthcare, school, judicial, and governing systems toward solutions.
Thank you also to those generous people who shared their personal (and often heartbreaking) stories, in service to the cause of helping others. It commonly takes many years to recognize a mental illness, and many more to pave a path toward recovery. Anonymity is often one of the only ways many feel able to protect themselves and loved ones. This kind of courageous coming out has the potential to awaken us to the suffering that has been hidden too long …. and to bring us together to end it.
Mental illness affects not only the person who is ill, but their families and loved ones as well. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Massachusetts is sponsoring a free Family-to-Family educational course on the island for family members and loved ones of individuals with a serious mental illness, beginning in March. After taking the course three times, and hearing from many others who have taken it, I can say it may be the single most significant thing we can do to help our loved ones. For me, fully educating and empowering myself was the first and real turning point toward my son’s recovery. Look out for announcements, or call Megan Grennan at 508-939-0681 to inquire or enroll.