Thursday, August 6, 2009

Raison d'etre

As many of you already know, a major reason for starting this blog is an effort to raise awareness about the condition and care of the mentally ill in our society and to support the efforts of the Robert D. Sutherland Center for the Evaluation and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Studies indicate that nearly 21 million, or roughly 9.5%, of adults in the United States suffer from a mood disorder (bipolar or major depression, for example), a number that does not include personality disorders, schizophrenia and many other debilitating psychological disabilities. In particular, bipolar affects roughly 5.7 million American adults, afflicting men and women equally across racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups, and while the average age of onset is 25, there is a growing recognition of its prevalence in children and adolescents. Despite this, public funding for mental health care remains woefully low, leaving the under- and uninsured with few options for help. In such a context, organizations like the Sutherland Center stand in the breach, providing care for many who would otherwise go without.

The Sutherland Center is committed to the support of people with bipolar and their families through diagnosis, treatment and education. Their principal mission is to provide care for the uninsured. Clients are asked to pay fees on a sliding scale that is roughly equivalent to many co-payments. The remainder of the Center’s funding comes from the Robert D. Sutherland Foundation, a non-profit organization dependent on grants and individual donations.

My reasons for seeking your support for the Sutherland Center go beyond the importance of their mission and their contributions in the greater Denver region. When I first came to Boulder, I had a difficult time finding a new therapist from the list provided by my insurer. I contacted the Sutherland Center for recommendations of psychologists who specialized in the treatment of bipolar. They responded not only with a list, but also with a promise – if no one on their list was a good fit for me, they would help. In the end, that’s what it came to: the Sutherland Center has reached beyond their stated mission and have given me the best, most productive care I have received since my diagnosis.

In my next post, I’ll fill you in on my plans and give you information on how to donate if you’d like to do so. More soon…

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