The Wiregrass Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, better known as NAMI, is working to bring mental health into the national spotlight.
The Wiregrass NAMI has only been around a few years, but it's a national organization looking to put a face on mental illness.
Most people believe the myth that mental disorders develop when a person is older, however mental illness strikes at the prime of adolescence.
The young are the most vulnerable.
"Often time’s mental illness will manifest itself in the teen years and the teen years are already crazy," said Cheryl Willis, NAMI-Wiregrass President.
Recent studies show mental disorders from depression, schizophrenia, and autism affect 1 in every four Americans.
“If you're sitting there with 4 people, one of you may have a mental illness, however we have found we have tendency to cover it with alcohol," said Zoe Newby, NAMI State Advisor.
“It can wreck a person's life and it might wreck it pretty fast and it can get other people killed," said Addie Summers, NAMI-Wiregrass Secretary.
That's if it goes untreated.
This is why the Wiregrass Chapter is working to get the NAMI name out to the public.
"I first heard of NAMI when my daughter was in the state hospital and there was a lot of literature there," said Newby.
She says learning of her daughter's disorder didn't discourage her.
Instead, watching her admit that she has a mental illness was the first step to treatment.
“There is help; there is hope for those who have mental illness. If they can just accept the fact that they have a mental illness then we can get some work done for them," said Newby.
“Our laws are not set up that we can override the individual even when it's the parent and the whole family who want something done for them," said Summers.
“It's just a matter of time, an untreated person with a mental illness is going to run into the law," said Willis.
Wiregrass NAMI is working on building a relationship with law enforcement and the court systems.
They're looking to implement training programs to teach officers how to handle a person with an untreated mental disorder.
Most insurance companies cover medical treatment for mental health.
The Wiregrass NAMI will hold their next meeting this Friday at 7:00pm at Southeast Alabama Medical Center on the 7th floor of the Doctor’s Building.
For more information visit www.namialabama.org.