Rosalynn Carter visits SF to talk about mental health

August 13, 2010 6:08:53 PM PDT
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter is in the Bay Area for a trip to talk about mental health and the need to erase the stigma around it so people can get the help they need.

ABC7 caught up with Carter at the San Francisco Fairmont, with Susan Golant, one of the co-authors of her new book. Carter is encouraging parents to monitor their children's mental health, as well as their physical health.

"Children, we've learned, 50 percent of illnesses, mental illness began in children by age 14, 75 percent by age 24," Carter said.

Her new book is called "Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis." She has been involved in this issue ever since her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, began running for public office decades ago in Georgia.

"What I hope will happen someday is that people will take their children, just like they take them to a doctor for any other kind of illness, and then take them for a checkup just to be sure that everything's fine with their mental and emotional state," she said.

And Carter is talking with the Obama administration about improving mental health care.

"People don't realize that those with mental illness are more often victims of violence than they are perpetrators; they're four times more likely to have a violent act against them than the average person," Carter said.

She wants people to get over feeling ashamed about mental illness.

"What's so exciting is today, people can recover, even from serious mental illness, people can recover and lead wonderful lives in the community and school," she said.

The Carters celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this past July. They have four children and lots of grand children, including a new grandchild on the way from their daughter Amy, who grew up in the White House.


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