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In Her Words

The first activity of the Mental Health Program was to hold an annual national symposium. Stigma and the Mentally Ill was held on Nov. 15, 1985, in conjunction with the Department of Psychiatry at the Emory School of Medicine. Eventually we held them at The Carter Center, and each year the symposium brought together a group of mental health care professionals, including government agencies, consumer groups, and advocacy organizations to focus on a different mental health policy issue. The last symposium, Widening the Circle of Health and Wellness: The Central Role of Behavioral Health, was held on Nov. 17-18, 2016.~Rosalynn Carter


Now as I campaigned [for Jimmy for Governor], I was approached almost daily by family members distressed about loved ones at our Central State Hospital.  Over and over the questions came about what my husband would do to address their terrible problems….Then one day, an incident set me on a course that would become a lifelong crusade for me. At 4:30 in the morning, I stood at the entrance to a cotton mill in Atlanta, waiting for people to get off work. I saw an older woman emerge, all alone....She told me she had a daughter who was mentally ill and that she and her husband struggled to make ends meet in order to care for her. 'I work at night while he stays with her, and he works during the day when I'm at home,' she said. The image of the woman haunted me all day…I’d been worrying about those in institutions and their families, but how many others were struggling to care for a loved one at home, without access to any professionals at all? The scope of the problem overwhelmed me.~Rosalynn Carter


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