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Rosalynn Carter 2004 Mental Health Day

Dear Friends,

The theme for the 2004 World Mental Health Day, The Relationship of Physical and Mental Health: Co-Occurring Mental and Physical Disorders, emphasizes a holistic approach to health and wellness. Since 1946 when the World Health Organization defined health as "the complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being…not merely the absence of disease," we have gradually come to understand that the most effective remedies treat both body and mind.

Chronic or catastrophic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS take a huge toll on sufferers - and survivors - and often lead to serious psychological disorders, particularly depression. Likewise, individuals afflicted with severe and persistent mental illnesses are frequently affected with a variety of physical disorders and complications. For a number of reasons, many of which are addressed in the accompanying materials, coordinating care for co-occurring disorders remains a serious challenge. Both medical practitioners and mental health professionals can use this opportunity to devise creative strategies for bridging the mental and physical aspects of healthcare. And affected individuals and families can help increase awareness to encourage and promote more comprehensive systems of treatment.

This year's World Mental Health Day global education packet includes information and resources about many of the most common co-occurring physical and mental disorders. I hope you will join the countless others - organizations, government officials, community leaders, and ordinary citizens - in over 150 countries that will engage in educational activities around this issue. Together we can focus worldwide attention on the importance of incorporating mental health in advancing general good health and well-being for all people.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,

Rosalynn Carter
Honorary Chair