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Mental Illness Awareness Week Marked in Idaho

GRAPHIC: Mental Illness Awareness Week runs through the 12th, to erase stigmas and emphasize that treatment can be successful. Poster courtesy of NAMI
GRAPHIC: Mental Illness Awareness Week runs through the 12th, to erase stigmas and emphasize that treatment can be successful. Poster courtesy of NAMI
October 7, 2013

BOISE, Idaho - No stigma, and speak out to share your story. Those are two themes being publicized in Idaho during this year's Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 6-12.

Kathy Mercer is the parent of a young adult who has struggled with mental illness. She said it is important for families to know where to turn.

"I floundered around for a year, and then I got hooked up with NAMI - the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have really good classes. I took a 12-week course with other families of young adults who were struggling how to handle things," Mercer said.

Treatment is expensive, she added. She is concerned that although affordable coverage is supposed to be available to families on the new health exchange, because of the Medicaid "loophole," too many who need help will not be able to afford it. Because Idaho did not expand Medicaid, families below 100 percent of the poverty level will not be able to get Medicaid coverage or qualify for subsidies on the new exchange. Information about the exchange is available at http://YourHealthIdaho.org.

Mercer said she is pushing for Idaho to expand Medicaid - a decision for the legislature - and she is carrying the banner that "treatment works."

"The numbers for recovery for mental health are on a par with asthma, diabetes or heart disease - if you get treated," Mercer said.

Idahoans suffering a mental crisis can call 1-800-273-TALK.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID