More Than Half of All New Yorkers Are Related to Someone With Mental Illness Says New United Way Survey

United Way of New York City to Host Mental Health Forum to Raise Awareness of

the Issues of Mental Illness in NYC

Forum is Moderated by PBS' Bill Moyers with Keynote Address by

Dr. Nelba Chavez

Nov 15, 2000, 00:00 ET from United Way of New York City

    NEW YORK, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a mental health survey
 released today by United Way of New York City, more than half of all New York
 City residents acknowledge that someone in their immediate family or extended
 family suffers from mental illness.  These findings and other statistics in
 the survey indicate that mental illness is pervasive in New York City.  It
 also shows that the illness affects all areas of a person's life, including
 the workplace.
     A total of 500 people in New York City who have telephones were surveyed
 for this study.  Respondents based their answers on the definition that mental
 illness is a health problem that disrupts a person's thinking, feelings, moods
 and ability to relate to others.
     "People with mental illness face barriers in the most basic areas of life:
 employment, education, and recreation, health care and personal
 relationships," said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, senior vice president and chief
 executive for agencies services at the United Way of New York City.  "We have
 identified mental illness as one of our critical targeted needs, that directly
 affect people's ability to become and remain self-sufficient.  The survey and
 forum will enable us to continue to develop initiatives that will concentrate
 on filling service gaps thus helping providers and caregivers all over this
     The survey also found that more than two-thirds of New York City residents
 feel that there is a bias towards mentally ill people preventing them from
 receiving effective treatment.  And, the survey shows that more than 83% of
 New York City residents acknowledge that there is no more than two degrees of
 separation between themselves and someone with mental illness.  This means
 that two-thirds of New Yorkers have experienced mental illness among their
 family and friends, one-third of New Yorkers have experienced mental illness
 in their immediate family and half of New Yorkers have experienced mental
 illness in their families.
     To address the findings in the survey and engage further discussion about
 the results, United Way of New York City will assemble some of the leading
 mental health experts in the city at a mental health forum on Thursday,
 November 16.  The forum, entitled "Two Degrees of Separation, Mental Health in
 Everyday Life: Removing the Stigma" will be moderated by Bill Moyers,
 Executive Editor at PBS.
     The forum, an intimate conversation with Bill Moyers, will highlight the
 impact of mental disabilities on families and individuals in New York City. It
 will address service needs and opportunities, and provide direction for future
 support in the area of mental health.
     Dr. Nelba Chavez, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health
 Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will
 deliver the Keynote Address.  The U.S. Government's highest ranking official
 on mental health will address the national perspective on mental health and
 highlight the programs and initiatives set forth by the federal government.
     Dr. Chavez will also join a panel of distinguished experts, with each
 presenter addressing a specific mental health issue.  The panelists include:
     -- Elsie del Campo, Deputy Commissioner for Program Services, New York
 City Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcohol Services
     -- Dr. Ann Sullivan, M.D., Regional Director of Psychiatry for the Queens
        Health Network of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
     -- Kenneth Dudek, Executive Director, Fountain House
     -- Dr. Alan Siskind, President, Coalition of Voluntary Mental Health
     In addition to the panelists, consumers will provide personal testimony
 that will highlight their personal struggles with mental illness.  Mario Rios
 Pinot, a member of Fountain House since 1976, was diagnosed with paranoid
 schizophrenia and has been hospitalized.  He will describe his chronic bout
 with mental illness and the way he is coping with the disease.  Ira Minot,
 Publisher of Mental Health News, was afflicted with a serious form of major
 depression that basically destroyed everything in his life.  Minot will
 discuss the stigma attached to his illness and how it left him homeless and
 penniless for 10 years.  Minot will describe how he overcame the illness and
 where his life is now.
     The survey, which  has a sample error of plus or minus 4.5%, was conducted
 by telephone using CATI software and a random digit dialing method was used to
 ensure that all New Yorkers with telephones had an equal chance of being in
 the sample.  Interviewing was conducted on weekdays between 5 PM and 9 PM, on
 Saturdays between 11 AM and 6 PM and on Sundays between 1 PM and 6 PM.
 Interviewing began on October 26 and concluded on November 5.
     Last year, United Way of New York City's total revenue was $124 million
 that supported more than 800 nonprofit health and human service organizations
 helping people in every city neighborhood.  Its network of agencies range from
 large citywide organizations, such as local chapters of the American Red Cross
 and the Salvation Army, to small grassroots organizations anchored in
 inner-city neighborhoods such as the Miracle Makers of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and
 the New York Asian Woman's Center located on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.
 UWNYC has one of the lowest administrative overheads of any major charity,
 with more than 87 cents of every dollar contributed going to help people lead
 self-sufficient and productive lives.

SOURCE United Way of New York City