To the editor:

The Utah Alliance for the Mentally Ill is one of 900 groups across the nation dedicated to the advocacy of those suffering from serious mental illnesses, brain diseases called schizophrenia, manic depression, and major depression.We are struggling against the stigmatization of seriously mentally ill persons. We do this because our loved ones suffer from these devastating mental illnesses. In this holiday season we ask for understanding and request the following:

1. May our neighbors understand that those who are seriously mentally ill are suffering and in pain.

2. May they understand this pain was caused through no fault of the mentally ill person or his family.

3. May they understand that modern research shows that serious mental illnesses--like schizophrenia and manic depression--are brain diseases.

4. Now, and throughout the year, may our communities understand that our loved ones are not violent as a population but sick people in need of help.

5. May our communities provide support for the services and housing our loved ones so desperately need.

6. May Americans understand that nearly one-third of all homeless people are mentally ill.

7. May we all understand that our streets and curbs and back alleys are not adequate housing for seriously mentally ill citizens.

8. May our government launch a serious research effort to make our loved ones whole.

9. May our friends who have not come to terms with the presence of a mentally ill person in their family join us. . .so that America can see how truly widespread the "quiet disease" is.

By Jan Harding, administrator, Utah Alliance for the Mentally IlL