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Jan 6, 2013 7:46 PM by Erika Flores

Forum held to decrease mental illness stigmas

TUCSON-A local church held a forum to discuss mental illnesses Sunday.

Supporters emphasized the need for more mental health care following the January 8th shooting.

Personal stories of loved ones suffering from a mental illness brought to light the struggles many families are faced with.

Martha Auslander's son has Schizophrenia.

"You watch your child go down these paths and it's just not clear what's happening," said Auslander.

It's a struggle Auslander has dealt with for years.

"What do you do? Where do you go? What does that mean? You have no idea," said Auslander.

Auslander said she has trouble getting her son to accept his disorder.

"I mean I'm being really honest with you here," said Auslander.

Now, she volunteers with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to help educate others on mental illnesses.

"I think that many of us have a family with perhaps a person that is going through some trouble. Mental trouble of some type, and we don't know what to do," said Ellen Poulson who was at the forum.

This group not only has concerns about family members but others that have been in the public eye suffering from a mental illness.

"Jared Loughner...I have just agonized over his parents and how they must feel," one woman said to the panel.

Tucsonans can still remember the January 8th shooting like it was yesterday.

"It's something that happened in our community that sinks deep into our psyche," said Joyce Stewart.

They still wonder why Jared Loughner, a young man who showed signs of Schizophrenia didn't get the help he needed.

It's a loaded question since about 25 percent of U.S. adults have a mental illness and roughly half of them seek treatment.

This group only hopes educating people on mental illnesses will decrease the stigma and more people will seek treatment.

For more information on mental illnesses, click on these links:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/index.shtml
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/MentalHealthSurveillance/
http://www.nami.org/

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