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Group offers insight into mental illness

Mental Illness Awareness Week is being observed through Saturday.

Just what is serious mental illness? The Alliance for the Mentally Ill of West Pasco offers the following information:

Long-term mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, manic depression and severe depression are biochemically caused brain diseases. They are not caused by a poor home environment. They are not the result of character flaws. Scientific research has demonstrated these truths. Public education lags behind.

Serious mental illnesses are medical illnesses, just like cancer or diabetes, and can be treated with medication.

Three-quarters of all people with schizophrenia develop the disease between ages 16 and 25.

Schizophrenia is not a mental deficiency; many patients have high IQs. Schizophrenia touches people from every walk of life.

Mental illness is a term used for a group of disorders causing severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating.

There are 2.5-million schizophrenics.

The most common form of mental illness is depression. It is a long-term feeling of sadness and inability to cope that affects the body and the mind.

Manic depression occurs in episodes. These episodes may be periods of abnormal elation and increased activity or periods of depression.

The goals of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of West Pasco are to improve the quality of life of long-term mentally ill people, educate the public, promote support services and improved hospital and treatment facilities, and promote research.

The West Pasco group welcomes anyone interested in learning more about mental illness. Meetings are at 3 p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at the office of Youth and Family Alternatives, on Plathe Road between Rowan and Little roads in New Port Richey.

The support group will have a sidewalk sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Human Development Center, across from Gulf High School. All donations and proceeds will go for research.

For information, call president, Faye White, at (813) 848-0770 or Lynn Anderson at (813) 841-0886, ext. 350.

Information for Health Notes should be submitted in writing to Suzanne Hayes, Pasco Times, 301 E Meridian Ave., Suite 214, Dade City, FL 33525. Items must reach the Dade City bureau at least five days before the event is scheduled.

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