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How to help combat mental illness

Those who have been personally affected by mental illness are often motivated, even driven, to do something to help lessen the suffering of others.

But short of joining a research lab or pursuing an advanced degree, is there anything that can be done? Yes, Stanford psychiatrist Carolyn Rodriguez, MD, PhD, writes in a recent Huffington Post article.

In the piece, she lays out three straightforward steps to help.

First, get informed and then spread the word. The wealth of information available through the National Institutes of Mental Health is a good starting spot, she says. "If you read about a captivating research or treatment discovery, send it to a friend or post the link on your website to inspire others to learn more," she writes.

Next, become an advocate. Join a group that shares your concerns. Some options include nonprofit partners of the NIMH, the advocacy arm of the American Psychiatric Association or a variety of other groups such as American Suicide Prevention that she mentions in the article.

Another alternative is to participate in research. "Medications now helpful to countless individuals would not be available without the volunteers who joined clinical trials," Rodriguez writes. A few sources of information include or ResearchMatch.

And perhaps most importantly is to know where to get help for you or a loved one in the case of a mental health crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides crisis counseling and referrals. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a services locator tool.

Previously: Ketamine: Fresh hope for the treatment of OCD, Local teens come together for Stanford Mental Health Innovation Challenge and California setting a new path for mental health services
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