Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Healthy Minds Draws Thousands

Thousands of people turned out across the U.S. and in Canada on September 14, 2008, for an unprecedented series of free public forums on how neuropsychiatric research has helped turn the tide on the devastating effects of mental health disorders.

Sponsored by NARSAD, the world’s leading philanthropic organization for research on mental illnesses, the historic day of events served to launch an international public awareness campaign called “Healthy Minds Across America.” Forty-seven unique forums took place at prominent universities and medical centers across the continent, where scientists who are conducting leading-edge research provided some of the latest findings on such conditions as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, including as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and childhood mental disorders.

The day of events saw nearly 4,000 attendees, including Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter, who opened the Healthy Minds Across America forum at the University of Colorado Denver. Among other notable guests at the forums were David Hamburg, M.D., former longtime president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and an early pioneer of biological psychiatry; Oliver Sacks, M.D., famed neurologist and author; Andrew Solomon, award-winning author of “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression;” and Barbara Leadholm, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

However, most in attendance were patients seeking to learn about potential new treatments for their disorders, parents concerned about their children’s chances of recovery, mental health professionals interested in understanding the causes and mechanisms of mental illnesses and how to better help their clients, special education teachers who wanted to find out how to work more effectively with their students with brain and behavior disorders, and students of psychiatry and neuroscience.

Hopefully, as the result of new research spurred by this event, future Healthy Minds Across America will be able to provide news of new treatments and more answers for consumers and family members.