Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paul's Legacy Foundation - Since there are no "Jerry's Kids" for Schizophrenia

DJ Jaffe, co-founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center wrote, "Trying to gain sympathy for mental illness, by only displaying the highest functioning individuals, is like trying to end hunger by showing the well-fed." He is spot on.

This was a line I took from an article DJ wrote about Mental Illness Awareness Week (first full week in October). He explained that many agencies try to end "stigma" by diverting our attention away from people, like my brother Paul, who are treatment resistant and incapable of taking care of themselves. All this does is divert our attention from the people who need our help the most. Maybe that accounts for some of the incredulous looks and comments I get when I talk about Paul. Maybe most people think all of the former patients of the state hospitals were "cured".

Based on the commercials for depression, all we need are some drugs and we're back in business. There are no commercials for anti-psychotic medications. There is no one saying "I used to have hallucinations but now that I take XYZ drug, they're all gone. Now I have a good job and own my own home." However, this is basically what is implied when we read almost anything about severe brain disorders.

No one ever wants to admit the ugly truth; some people just do not get better. It is that way with almost every illness, why should it be any different with mental illness?

I wrote about how we rush to help the people in Haiti while we have ignored the after effects of our own man-made disaster. We just held a big telethon for the Haitian crisis - every major news channel and others simulcast the event. Millions of dollars were raised - all for a good cause. I am not saying we shouldn't give to Haiti, as some have claimed, but why do we seem to do absolutely nothing for people with severe brain disorders?

There are no "Jerry's kids" to parade around; there is no poster child to use to help raise awareness. Or is there?

How about Paul? I just started a Facebook Cause called Paul's Legacy Foundation. In Paul's memory, I am going to raise awareness and money for the agency I feel best advocates on behalf of people like Paul. The Treatment Advocacy Center does just that.

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, expect an invitation to Paul's Legacy Foundation, otherwise, please go directly to the Treatment Advocacy Center website and donate from there. Either way, the donations go directly to TAC.

Thank you!


  1. Thank you for all you are doing. It is appreciated and important. DJ

  2. Hurray for Paul. He makes a perfect poster child (love this picture) and Ilene, you are an amazing advocate for mental illness.
    Hugs, Monica