Starting AIM has been a whirlwind! How many charities can start with a few friends in April and raise over $250,000 by August, and then raise over $1m in 18 months. The overwhelming support from wonderful, passionate people like you has not only been heart-warming, but a testament to a dire need in our society. When I tell friends about AIM, the response is either to immediately divulge circumstances in their lives that relate to mental health disorders or to simply cry. Mental health issues affect most people in one way or another. It is so prevalent in our society, yet so hidden.
As members of National Charity League, my daughter, Sydney, and I volunteered for many different philanthropies, none of which focused on finding cures for brain or mental health disorders. So it seemed to us the perfect time to start AIM, while she and her brothers were still teenagers and could raise awareness among their peers.
Now three years later, we are more committed than ever to help find successful treatments and cures for mental health disorders in children and young adults. There is an epidemic in our country of diagnoses, especially ADHD, anxiety and depression. The consequences of not having successful treatments and cures for kids are horrific, including suicide, school failure, juvenile hall, homelessness, self-medication and addiction, eating disorders, sky-rocketing health care costs, and violence (not to mention the toll it takes on family members and friends).
We want AIM for Mental Health to be a community based campaign for everyone, not just for those directly affected by mental health disorders. AIM focuses on raising money and awareness similar to the American Cancer Society and the Red Cross. You may not have cancer, but many people donate to find cures. You may not be affected by a disaster, but that doesn’t stop us from donating to the Red Cross to help others. I see mental health disorders as our nation’s biggest problem, and not only do we need to recognize this, but we need to do something about it NOW!
Chances are that you have never been asked to donate money to help find cures for ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCD…..Now we are asking. Please donate or get involved as a volunteer.
The need is urgent. The interest is there. NOW is the time to fill a huge void in our community and create a campaign model for all communities to bring awareness to the tremendous increase in brain/mental disorders in our youth and to raise money for mental health research. Let’s talk about mental health as a brain disease and not a personal weakness. Let’s raise awareness. And let’s talk about cures!