The first thing I reach for on Sunday morning is the Out the Window column. This past Sunday Gerry Mulligan stated “all we can do is ask why.”

Wow! Did that trigger a response from me.

I can only ask why when one out of five people have some degree of mental illness, why locally we are not asking what can we do to help?

NAMI Citrus asks for help in many ways: help with finances, help with membership, and through training for volunteers to conduct our support groups and classes. We have been asking in Citrus County for more than 20 years.

As the population and pressures of modern life have grown, so has the problem. What is the magic word to convince well-known, capable, intelligent, community minded folks to say, “What can I do to help”?

I coined the phrase, Mental Illness Cooties, which is another way of saying stigma. Mental illness strikes at the very heart of what makes us well-functioning human beings. A black fog descends when one is designated as mentally ill. It has been documented throughout history on cave walls and even in the Holy Bible.

How blessed today we are to have medications that can balance out whatever causes our systems to malfunction.

None of us can choose our own DNA. Our DNA sensitizes us to all kinds of derelection of what we would like to be and do. Some can go a lifetime with this sensitivity and not have it triggered into any kind of episode.

However, they can pass this DNA on to another generation, where they manifest into sad results.

No one is “shunned” if they have a genetic predisposition to a heart or lung disorder.

So again, on behalf of National Alliance of Mental Illness, Citrus County, a chartered and state registered nonprofit, I ask why we still do not have the necessary volunteers and monies to get this magnificent engine going? So many folks benefit from the work and funding by far too few volunteers.

Help NAMI, please. You can make a real difference for Citrus County citizens of all conditions! If not, then why?

Marilyn Booth is the former president of NAMI Citrus.

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