Jonathan Swift was an English satirist, political commentator and cathedral dean who lived and wrote in the 18th and 19th centuries. He was fifty years old before his classic, “Gulliver’s Travels,” was published. He is also the father of the overused phrase, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”It is also unlikely that Pat Elwell was thinking about an overused phrase when he talked of his frustration with friends some ten years ago. A family member needed help for depression, but finding the right combination of medication and counseling seemed impossible.
For some six years, Pat confided in friends who had similar frustrations with mental health care delivery system. One thing became clear to him – that just about everyone he had encountered either had a family member or someone close to them who suffered some form of mental illness or emotional disorder. In fact, he found that more people suffered from one of the many disorder under the mental illness umbrella than suffered from any other major disease, research spending on finding cures and treatments was lowest for mental illness. That revelation resulted in Pat calling his friends together.
It was a cool evening in late 1992 that a handful of caring, concerned citizens began meeting in a back room of Patrick’s Restaurant on Auburn Road in the shadow of the Silverdome. Some had family members with mental illness and others were interested professionals or simply people who realized a need and wanted to help. “NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION.” Jonathan Swift was right.
It didn’t take long to establish the goal of this fledgling group…raise money for brain research and erase the stigma that discourages donation for this cause. It was quickly decided that MIRA, Mental Illness Research Association, would be the name, and a major fund raiser was set for the fall of ’93. What amazes the original founders of MIRA is that unseasoned volunteers came together and succeeded in raising $100,000. That success strengthened MIRA’s resolve to pump much needed funds into mental illness research, specifically in Michigan.
It took Jonathan Swift many year to write “Gulliver’s Travels.” Pat Elwell and his friends took only a few years to create MIRA with its purpose of funding research. Anything worthwhile takes time, and MIRA is a prime example of a noble effort targeted at an extremely deserving cause – bringing a quality of life back to the 40 million Americans who are afflicted with emotional disorders or mental illness.
MIRA truly is the child of necessity. Public funding for mental illness research is dwindling. With your help, we can maintain and accelerate the rate of scientific progress in this area.