SPRINGFIELD,IL- Today Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn unveiled and signed a special mental health flag during Mental Health Rally and Lobby Day to bring awareness to the importance of mental health care.
The flag, designed by Kristy Worthen - a bipolar disorder patient - is on tour as part of a national initiative sponsored by the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Illinois is the 28th state to raise the flag at its state capitol.
"Kristy Worthen's courage, hope and perseverance are an inspiration to all of us,” said Quinn. “Illinois is proud to be a part of the Shedding Light Tour, bringing Kristy's story to Illinois and letting her voice be heard on behalf of everyone suffering from a mental or emotional disorder."
The original hand-painted flag was created by Worthen to draw attention to the need for improvement in the lives of people with mental illnesses through access to accurate information, resources and appropriate medications. Worthen is touring the nation telling her story and highlighting the mental health needs in all 50 states.
To date, the flag has flown in 27 states and has been signed by each lieutenant governor.
The National Lieutenant Governor’s Association is seeking to rally public awareness of the need to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses through the “Mental Health Flag Project,” which depicts the symbol of a beacon from a lighthouse and the inscription “Shedding Light on Mental Health Issues.”
Quinn was joined by representatives of the Mental Health Association in Illinois, state legislators and mental health advocates in pointing out the needs of people suffering from bipolar disorder and the numerous other mental health disorders.
“Mental illness is an education issue as well as a public health issue,” said Quinn. “Every state must build awareness concerning the importance of diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.”
The Shedding Light flag has already flown over the state capitols of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode island, Tennessee, Texas Vermont and Washington D.C.
In August 2001, Quinn walked across Illinois from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan on behalf of decent health care for everyone, including mental health care.