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It has been said that mental illness is the last great frontier in the civil rights movement. There is little question as to accuracy of this statement if one takes a close look at what the condition of the mentally ill was at the beginning of the last century and how little progress was made during the first 90 years of this period.  Lack of progress with any concern, issue, etc. is often linked to the "public's" perception. The greatest progress is achieved when someone steps forward to champion the "cause" as happened in the civil rights and other movements. Unfortunately, mental illness is something most people don't want to think about. Its not a popular issue, it affects a minority (estimates range from 5-20 percent), its not visible or apparent. Those that are affected by it don't want to talk about it, and those unaffected by it don't want to even think about it (too depressing).
While there is no singular champion that we can point to as the founder of our movement to eliminate bias and stigma against the mentally ill, there are collective ones that are members of NAMI organizations around the world. And NAMI often establishes alliances with particular politicians to support our cause as in the case of mental health parity legislation. While this legislation has yet to become law, great strides have been made toward passage. This law would make illegal the discriminatory practice by insurance companies to pay different levels of benefits for mental health when compared to other  insurance coverages.
The other issue that NAMI is attempting to stamp out is the stigma that is associated with mental illness. This is often portrayed inaccurately in the news and entertainment media (e.g. mentally ill people are all psychotic, etc.)