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Alliance Educates Public on Illnesses

July 19, 2008

By Haley Hughes, Aiken Standard, S.C.

Jul. 19–Support, advocacy and educational opportunities are available in Aiken for those who have mental illness and for their families.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Aiken is just one of more than 1,000 affiliates around the country that takes its cue from NAMI, a nationwide grassroots organization that was founded in 1979.

The Aiken group meets every month, said member Pat Lokey, and hosts speakers at each meeting.

The next meeting is Thursday with guest speaker Dr. John Bradley, who will talk about the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The meeting will be held in the parlor at Aiken First Baptist Church, 120 Chesterfield St. N.E., and begins at 7 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend.

“We believe early diagnosis and treatment prevent failure in school,” Lokey said, adding that she has heard stories of parents spending hours and hours trying to get their ADHD child to do homework. “We feel like it’s just something the parents need. A lot of people hesitate to admit a child has a mental illness, but that’s the first step.”

Principal characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity and is sometimes apparent in children in preschool and during the early years of life.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

“We advocate for people with mental illness and their families,” Lokey said. “We fight the stigma associated with mental illness. We fight for equal treatment in insurance. Mental illness is a physical illness and should be treated as such. And we push for research.”

For more information, contact Lokey at 648-4178 or Leslie McCowan at 270-5221.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Aiken Standard, S.C.

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