By: Logan Pierce, Editor-in-Chief
The panel consisted of five individuals from NorthCare’s Unity House, a psychiatric Social Rehabilitation day program. Frank Young, Jacob Zelk, Lynn Ratliff, Tasha Austin and Peggy Blanton shared their stories of mental illness, from the symptoms and diagnosis to treatment and control.
By the numbers
The panel presented several statistics. While 25 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of mental illness, only 60 percent of that number actually seeks treatment. Organizations such as Unity House want those recovery numbers to rise.
This goal is accomplished through the Psychiatric Rehabilitation (PSR) program. Its purpose is to help individuals regain control of their lives.
Members of the panel shared their experiences. When Young was diagnosed with Organic Brain Syndrome (OBS), he had already felt the symptoms of agitation and confusion. After receiving treatment and graduating from Unity House, Young now owns his own apartment. He later graduated from a culinary school and currently teaches others.
“Recovery is possible,” Austin said, “If you try it, you can do it.”
Mental health musings
At this point, the panel fielded questions from the audience. Stafford asked, “What if I was new to Unity House?” “We’d show you around and even serve you lunch,” Young said, “The first two weeks you get pampered and treated like a star. Then after you’ve adjusted, you’re assigned to different areas where you can begin helping others.”
The panel was asked what they would do without Unity House. “If Unity House closed, I’d want to end my life,” Austin said.
The event concluded with advice for those who have been recently diagnosed with a mental illness. Emphasis was put on properly researching the specifics of one’s condition. “I had a friend who thought his condition was worse than what it actually was,” Young said, “This fear exacerbated his condition. Fortunately, he had friends able to help him feel better. He saw himself, not as a series of symptoms, but as a person.”
The need for support fits with the motto of Unity House, “In unity we walk the path of recovery.”