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Reaching Out to Volunteers with Mental Illness

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This article advocates for people with mental illness being more accepted as volunteers. My experience in mental health issues is complex, encompassing several points of view. First and foremost, I am mentally ill myself, fighting against bipolar disorder type 1 since 1986. I also faced the illness in loved ones, having parents with "mood swings" (milder than mine), several bipolar friends and both my former and present boyfriend affected by this very same illness. It was by seeing bipolar patients in Medical School that I realized "I had the problem." I also volunteered for three years with another organization before founding my own Web-based one, Bipolar Dream, in March 2003. In both sites all the volunteers I managed were mentally ill people.

With this opening, the author guides us through an informative and practical discussion of the myths surrounding mental illness, the most common forms of mental illness likely to be encountered by volunteer program managers, and tips for working with mentally ill volunteers. You'll find yourself challenged and inspired.