King Day at the Dome rally to focus on mental health

Organizers say Connecticut massacre makes topic timely

jself@thestate.comDecember 20, 2012 

— The 2013 King Day at the Dome rally will have a mental-health focus, the S.C. NAACP said Thursday.

A representative of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental-health advocacy group, will speak at the State House rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, said Lonnie Randolph Jr., president of the S.C. Conference of the NAACP.

Bill Lindsey, state executive director for the mental health organization, said recent instances of gun violence, including the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, make mental health an important topic to discuss now. “It just seems to be the right place at the right time to talk about these issues.”

Lindsey said participating in the rally will raise the profile of mental health issues in the state.

“We know what it takes to get well,” Lindsey said. “The problem is we haven’t been able to get (the mentally ill) the proper treatment. We haven’t had the heart or the political will to get the money for those folks to get the treatment that they deserve.”

Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCulloch and Randolph approached Lindsey about partnering with the NAACP to make mental health a focus of the event.

McCulloch said the probate court has sought partnerships “to seek better treatment options for those in our community who are suffering from mental illness.” In 2003, for example, the county started a mental health court to divert inmates with mental illness to treatment programs from jail, she said.

Now in its 13th year, King Day at the Dome was started to protest the display of the Confederate flag on the State House dome. The flag later was moved to the State House grounds.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658

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