Last night, i understand held a spring break themed, self-styled “fun’draiser” together with Maui Jim at the Grand Rapids Yacht Club in East Grand Rapids. And Sanford House was there to support board member and Sanford House Director of Operations, Alec Green and a great cause. The casual event, “Sunglasses at Night,” was well attended and everyone at the Yacht Club received a stylish pair of Maui Jim sunglasses for their support of i understand.
i understand is a non-profit organization, social media group and apparel campaign to support those who have lost a loved one to suicide or who struggle with mental illness. Their goal is to help erase the stigma and judgment associated with mental illness and suicide, by hosting monthly educational awareness events. The organization was started by Vonnie Woodrick in 2014. In loving memory of her husband Rob, who lost his battle with depression in 2003.
i understand is proud to collaborate with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. They provide aftercare packages to patients and families following a mental health crisis or death by suicide. Beginning this year, a full-time nurse is dedicated to educating staff, patients and families on good mental health and sharing the i understand mission.
Sanford House strongly supports the work of i understand. Anxiety, mood disorders, depression and suicidal ideation are all concerns at any addiction treatment center. Twenty percent of those suffering with substance use disorders (SUDs) also have anxiety or mood disorders. And according to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB) an estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.2 million adults (8.4%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.
Sanford House founder David Green says, “Sanford House is proud to partner with i understand in raising community awareness of suicide and mental illness. Vonnie is a trailblazer in this effort and she has surrounded herself with a dedicated group of people. This year, we look forward to building on our collaboration with this organization.”
i understand provides some things to remember that can help eliminate the stigma surrounding suicide:
1. i understand suicide is an effect of an illness
2. i understand mental illnesses are treatable
3. i understand stigma is the #1 reason why someone would not seek treatment for mental illness; education and awareness are vital to saving and changing lives
4. i understand reaching out to those who are suffering could save a life; let someone know you are available and treat them with respect and compassion
5. i understand most people who are suicidal do not want to die; they want their pain to end
6. i understand speaking out about suicide may empower others to share their stories
7. i understand those who die by suicide do make it to heaven
8. i understand feelings of guilt are part of the grieving process on the way to finding peace and acceptance