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 city." 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 Agencies 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