By FM Magazine

The issue of mental illness has permeated public discourse due to recent news stories about the role mental disorders have played in violent incidences including the Aurora and Newtown school shootings, the Navy Yard massacre, and the New York resident killed by police near the Capitol.

Joining Deb Gordon to discuss the issue was Kenneth J. Dudek, President of Fountain House, which is a New York based organization founded in the 1940s by a small group of people to provide family members with mental illness an opportunity for recovery, and has grown to annually help thousands of New Yorkers, and inspire many more around the world, with education and training programs.

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Mr. Dudek stressed the fact that though the majority of people with mental disorders are not violent, these high profile mass shootings bring to light the results of inadequate and untreated mental health care which is responsible for so much human suffering including homelessness, incarceration, and suicide. Mr. Dudek also provided data about mental illness in our society, relaying the fact that 1 in 4 Americans live with some form of serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and depression. Programs like those provided by Fountain House and other mental health centers can help people with serious mental illnesses regain their mental health and lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Mr. Dudek also addressed the stigma, rejection and isolation that accompany these conditions, which are often as damaging and debilitating as the illness itself. Fountain House provides members with a working community that offers them a sense of belonging and an opportunity to form relationships. The Fountain House approach includes early intervention, location (places where people with mental illness can garner the encouragement and support they need) and proactive outreach – all proven to be very successful, producing positive results. The Fountain House approach serves as a model for other programs around the world.

Mr. Dudek also discussed Fountain House’s UNITY Project which is a mentoring program for young adults with mental illness that focuses on connecting people ages 16-25 with valuable resources in the community such as housing services, benefits, wellness, education, employment, and substance abuse help. Mr. Dudek recently initiated the program in an effort to immediately reach young people with mental health issues and prevent them from falling through the cracks due to various issues like long program wait lists, no formal diagnoses, and insurance restrictions.

Spotlighted the Fountain House annual “Mad About Art” auction to benefit the Fountain House Gallery which contains art by artists living and working with mental illness. The event will take place on November 21st at Cedar Lake, and will honor Faith Ringgold and Bart McDade, and feature the music of Suzanne Vega.

–Deb Gordon/Fresh 102.7

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