Beth Manion is a mental health advocate, writer and public speaker whose work focuses on increasing awareness of issues surrounding mental illness. She is a member of Board of Directors of The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts.
Steve Lewis is a member of the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute faculty and freelance writer. He has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Spirituality and Health, and a biblically long list of parenting magazines and books (7 kids, 16 grandchildren). He is also a contributing writer for Talking Writing Magazine.
Elisabeth Grace is a semi-retired Clinical Social Worker, writer, birder and gardener who has lived in the United States since 1972, but who has deep roots in England and Scotland. She now shares her home in Columbia County with Cole, a Welsh Corgi whom she trained as a therapy dog, and Molly, a polite, blue-eyed cat.
Melody Moezzi was born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised in the American heartland. When at eighteen, she began battling a severe physical illness, her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies, and hyacinths.
But when she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there were no flowers. Despite several stays in psychiatric hospitals, bombarded with tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotics, she was encouraged to keep her illness a secret—by both her family and an increasingly callous and indifferent medical establishment.
Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way. She tells her story in Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 13 percent of U.S. adults have received treatment for some kind of mental health problem.
Still, the most severe cases remain the hardest to treat and take the biggest toll not just on the family and friends of those afflicted but also on the country at large. The National Institute of Mental Health puts the economic cost of untreated mental illness in the U.S. at more than $100 billion per year.