Last weekend I spent two days in the Napa Valley where $2.8 million dollars were raised by the fierce advocates for curing all brain disorders, Garen Staglin and Patrick Kennedy. They co-found One Mind for Research which aspires to end brain disease.
Awareness! And Awareness is what we have been focusing on this past month, as President Obama signed a proclamation declaring May as National Mental Health Awareness Month (the first president to do so!)
Although this was clearly more than just narcolepsy, it was possible that the constellation of symptoms was due to a small genetic alteration that included both a narcolepsy-causing gene and a mitochondrial gene located close by on the same chromosome.
On the morning of April 2, the president announced to a gathering of luminaries in the East Room of The White House a new and ambitious, decade-long research effort to uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders.
Mr. President, you have daunting tasks in front of you but know that you are not alone. This country is finally uniting and awareness of mental health issues has been catapulted to eveyone's consciousness over the past month since that day of horror where so many lives ended in an unthinkable way.
We can do this... we can turn our outrage and pain into fuel to catapult us to work together to prevent such tragedies in the future. Bright, inspiring hope prevails and is revealed to us in our work every single day.
With all of the incredible advances in care for mental illness, there is a huge roadblock between people and the treatment they need: the stigma and shame that pervade our culture regarding mental illness.
Patrick Kennedy is challenging scientists to see "innerspace" as the new frontier, a moonshot into the mind to explore brain circuitry and impaired genes and to develop research that can be translated into therapies and cures for all brain disorders.
For nearly 25 years, Patty Duke has traveled around the country educating audiences on brain disorders such as hers and speaking out about the stigma that goes along with being diagnosed with a "mental illness."