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Community Review
Fighting a stigma in U.S.
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    One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech this week is that we are still not fully meeting the needs of the mentally ill—nationally or locally. Though much progress has been made, we still have work to do. Removing barriers that prevent people from seeking help for themselves or their loved ones is especially important.
    Most people fear the stigma attached to seeking mental health care. The fear of being labeled as “crazy” prevents many from seeking help sooner. We need to keep in mind that the incident at Virginia Tech—as terrible as it is—is a rare case. Most people who suffer from mental illness do not resort to such extreme violence.
    The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an organization whose focus is improving life and care for people living with mental illness. Its Web site says that the United States as a whole received a grade of D in their 2006 Grading the States Report that serves as a report card for judging abilities to meet the needs of people with serious mental illness.
    The state of Virginia received a D on their NAMI report card; Georgia also received a D. Neighboring states South Carolina and Florida scored a little better with a B minus and a C minus, respectively. No states received As, while only five states received Bs.
    Obviously, much room for improvement exists. One of the greatest challenges facing those agencies dealing with people with mental illness is funding. NAMI lists funding as No. 1 on the list of urgent needs for Georgia.
    The Grading the States Report evaluates 39 specific criteria under the categories of Infrastructure, Information Access, Services and Recovery Supports. Georgia ranks with Ds across the board, however, a D plus was awarded in Services.
    Rather than further stigmatizing people who suffer from mental illness, this tragic event should encourage those who suffer from mental illness and their families to get help. As a society, we should remove the barriers that prevent treatment. Just as we seek help from a doctor for a physical illness, we should be able to seek help for mental illness without the fear of being labeled.
    To find out how you can help or to learn more about NAMI, visit the Web site at or contact NAMI Stateboro at (912) 536-4448. Also, Pineland Mental Health operates a crisis line at (912) 764-5125.


    Looking for something to do this week? Take a look at the Community Calendar on the Web site or check out Your Events below. You can choose an activity for every day of the week. From First Aid Classes to concerts to movies to stargazing, there’s something to suite every taste. Don’t just sit at home. Get out and have some fun!


    Politics are heating up on the blogs. Take a look at the featured blog with the responses below. Other topics discussed this week, including child support, school testing, business, sign language (I never knew it had so many applications!) and the simple joys of having grandparents living nearby. Have an opinion? Share it with the community by posting it on a blog.

Where to Eat

    French Quarter Café and Ocean Galley Seafood came on board our dining guide with pictures and information for you. Go online to check them out!
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