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Published: Sunday, 1/16/2005

Ford to host Washington meeting on educating about bipolar disorder

BLADE WASHINGTON BUREAU

WASHINGTON - Toledo Mayor Jack Ford will host a meeting here Monday to highlight the need for public education about a crippling mental illness known as "bipolar disorder."

The meeting will take place as part of the annual convention of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Ford said he hopes the meeting will persuade several dozen other mayors to create public education programs as a way of "lessening the stigma for people with bipolar disorder," which he added once was known as "manic depression."

The Washington meeting will include presentations by several speakers such as Rep. Tim Murphy (R., Pa.), co-chairman of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, Mr. Ford said.

"We want to use the meeting to kick off a model program that other cities can use," Mr. Ford said. "It's very important to publish information about bipolar disorder and to talk about medication, to talk about interventions that can help."

Having the meeting as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' event "gives it a certain legitimacy," he added. In addition, it means that staff from the U.S. Conference of Mayors will be detailed to help spread the effort around the country, he said.

The model program he envisions includes giving mayors information about how to plan a public education effort centered on bipolar disorder. Part of that effort involves having a city council pass a resolution focusing a particular day or week on the illness. Also, the model program includes creating and distributing information brochures about bipolar disorder and naming one person in the mayor's office to focus on ensuring that the public education campaign gets off the ground, Mr. Ford said.



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