BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes proclaimed the week of Oct. 5 to be Mental Illness Awareness Week, in conjunction with the Bridgewater Woman’s Club and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs supporting National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

According to the proclamation, NAMI is a special state project looking to raise awareness through education, support and advocacy, and it is a two-year project endorsed by the state.

The Bridgewater Woman’s Club chose to support this project this year.

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According to the proclamation, serious mental illness – including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder – affects one in four people every year.

According to member Virginia Panicucci, every two years the state federation chooses three different projects that each local club can focus on for the two years. The local clubs pick their focus, and this year, she said, the Bridgewater organization voted to support NAMI.

"Mental health has gotten a lot of focus recently," she said. "People are blaming it on not seeing the signals."

"Awareness is one of the key issues," she added.

Panicucci said the club will devote its volunteerism and fundraising money over the next two years to supporting NAMI and promoting awareness of mental illness.

"There are signs, and we are trying to focus on that," she said. "We are just getting the information now."