In recognition of Mental Health Month in May, Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan has begun a public service campaign to educate people on mental illness.

Many people know someone who has some kind of mental illness. Mental illness is a brain disease that, according to the U.S. surgeon general, affects at least one in five people each year.

Mental illnesses are multi-faceted and complex. They can be confusing and even frightening. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that with adequate treatment, 70 to 90 percent of seriously mentally ill individuals can have a significant reduction in symptoms and a greatly improved quality of life.

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To educate the public in an easy-to-understand format, Silver Hill Hospital will be posting definitions of key mental health terms, one day at a time, for each of the 31 days of the month.

"The first step towards healing is understanding," said Sigurd Ackerman, president and medical director of Silver Hill. "Our ultimate goal is to encourage people to get the help they need for themselves or a loved one. We feel a responsibility to educate the public and have chosen to do so in this accessible, private, informative venue."

According to Kate Mattias, executive director of NAMI Connecticut, "Mental illness is stigmatized because it is so misunderstood. Silver Hill breaks down complex topics into a few readable paragraphs each day, providing links to other resources, support groups and even suggesting books from the Silver Hill Patient Library. This is a tremendous undertaking and a real public service."

The campaign went live on Wednesday, May 1.

To view the campaign, visit www.silverhillhospital.org.