Americans focus intently on mental health in the wake of violent mass tragedies like shooting sprees. But when media outlets shift their attention to other news and Americans shift their attention to other matters, the dialogue about mental health tends to fade. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans coping with mental illness are not violent.

“Unfortunately, people sometimes forget that tragedies are happening every day. They include people living with mental illness who end up in emergency rooms, people who end up in jail or homeless on the street. They include deaths by suicide. They include young people whose symptoms too often aren’t recognized early enough to avoid the worst outcomes,” says Mary Giliberti, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Regardless of what’s happening in the news, NAMI promotes day-to-day dialogue, education and support related to mental health. NAMI is the country’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of Americans affected by mental illness.

An $8,000 donation courtesy of LawnStarter will help NAMI feed its grassroots initiatives.

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‘Silent Killer’

Competing in its first-ever Austin Startup Games on Jan. 23, the LawnStarter team clinched third place. With that third-place finish came $8,000 in cash intended for LawnStarter’s charity of choice, which is NAMI.

“Mental illness is a silent killer today,” says Steve Corcoran, co-founder and CEO of LawnStarter. “We chose NAMI as our Startup Games charity to nudge the needle toward a future where the resources exist to help those in need and the stigma toward mental illness and therapy is nonexistent. I am incredibly passionate about this subject and have seen firsthand the struggles that come with depression, PTSD and paranoia, as well as our infrastructure’s inability to adequately handle mental illness.”

In a given year, an estimated one-fifth of American adults — or roughly 43 million people — experience mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Nationwide, spending on mental health treatment is expected to reach $239 billion in 2020, up from $147 billion in 2009, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says.

“Mental illnesses are real disorders with real treatments, but too few people receive optimal care. Families of people with serious mental illness live with a patchwork of care and support services and they fear for their loved one’s safety and wellbeing,” the National Institute of Mental Health says.

Top image: Texas Appleseed

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