PAR has announced the recipient of its third-annual program to benefit worthy charities.
“PAR has been incredibly fortunate as a company,” stated R. Bob Smith III, PhD, Chairman and CEO. “Rather than sending our Customers an end-of-year gift, a few years ago, we decided to make a charitable contribution on behalf of our Customers to organizations chosen by those we serve. This is the third year we have done so, each year selecting a new charity to honor.”
In November, PAR mailed an end-of-year communication to select Customers, thanking them for their business and asking them to choose their favorite organization from a list as a way to acknowledge the important work they do throughout the year. Most PAR Customers are involved in psychological assessment, educational assessment, or mental health work. Now that results have been tallied, PAR is proud to announce that on behalf of its Customers, a $5,000 donation will be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
“We are so inspired by the work our Customers do, and NAMI inspires them,” said Smith. “It is an honor to be able to pay it forward.”
According to a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), adults with serious mental health problems face an 80 percent unemployment rate, a rate that continues to become more dire over time.
In 2003, 23 percent of those receiving public mental health services had jobs; by 2012, only 17.8 percent did.
The survey reports that most adults with mental illness want to work, and 60 percent can be successful if they have the right support. However, only 1.7 percent of those surveyed received supportive employment services. Study author Sita Diehl says the employment problem has less to do with the workers themselves and more to do with the lack of organizations providing supportive services for individuals with serious mental illnesses. Due to decreases in funding, services have not been as available.
On a related note, people with mental illnesses are now the largest and fastest-growing group to receive Supplemental Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Income.
Unemployment rates varied greatly by state, with 92.6 percent of those receiving public mental health services in Maine being without jobs to 56 percent of those in Wyoming reporting they are without employment.
Halloween is coming! Children and adults alike are carving pumpkins, dressing in costumes, and getting ready for an exciting evening of trick-or-treating. For those suffering with mental health issues, however, this can be an especially difficult time of year as they are reminded of the heavy stigma associated with their illness. A drive through your city or a stroll down the aisles of your local department store is all it takes to confirm that offensive stereotypes are alive and well when it comes to the mentally ill. Billboards and advertisements depicting “Haunted Asylum” or “Psychopath Sanctuary” attractions are hard to miss. “Mental Patient” costumes, complete with straightjackets, perpetuate the stereotypes further.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy group that is fighting these stereotypes and pressuring businesses to remove offensive attractions and costumes. “NAMI loves Halloween as much as anyone else,” says Bob Corolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations, in a recent blog. “But would anyone sponsor a haunted attraction based on a cancer ward? How about a veterans’ hospital with ghosts who died from suicide while being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder?”
NAMI encourages its members to help raise awareness about the problem in their own communities. Corolla says that the first step is to personally contact sponsors of “insane asylum” attractions or stores that carry offensive costumes. In some cases, small changes to the attraction or its marketing can make a big difference. Further steps include enlisting others to make calls and write emails of protest. Local television stations and newspapers can be educated about the problem—and many are willing to cover a protest as a news event.
Will it make any difference? In response to protests from mental health advocates, the U.K. superstore Asda (a Wal-Mart company) and major grocery chain Tesco were persuaded to remove offensive costumes from their shelves. Both stores apologized for their insensitivity; Asda called it “a completely unacceptable error” and has donated £25,000 to the U.K. mental health charity Mind.
Corolla cautions that you should be prepared for a backlash when people feel that you are criticizing their fun. But even then, you may be more effective than you know. “Even if it seems that too many people disagree with your position,” he says, “you win simply by raising awareness.”
Visit the NAMI Web site to learn more about what you can do to fight the stigma against mental illness.