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Rosalynn Carter puts focus on mental health

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Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn Carter

John Amis, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Standing outside an Atlanta cotton mill campaigning for her husband's bid to become governor of Georgia, Rosalynn Carter came upon a stooped and weary woman heading home to care for a mentally ill daughter.

The pre-dawn encounter in 1966 would help launch a crusade that has lasted to this day. As her husband's political career catapulted him to the White House, Rosalynn Carter worked to bring mental health to the fore. Her advocacy has continued long after the couple left the nation's capital and established the Carter Center in Atlanta.

The former first lady details that 1966 meeting and her work since in a new book, "Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis." It is Rosalynn Carter's fifth book and her second dealing with mental health.

The former first lady, 82, says that while there have been dramatic advances to treat those who suffer from mental illness, the stigma still lingers.

"That's really been frustrating to me," she said.