Help is Available for People Living with Mental Illness

Mental illness affects an estimated one out of every five American families. But it's not a situation without hope.

Laura Silverberg can attest to that. Diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, she says she may not fit the picture of a person with a mental illness - and that's the point. She says people should realize that mental illness can happen to anyone, regardless of profession or a certain amount of education. But, she says, help is available.

It did take Laura a while to find the right help. She spent time in long-term care and eventually discovered the Partial Hospital Program at Stormont-Vail West, 3707 SW 6th St., Topeka. It's a crisis stabilization program where patients come six hours a day for three to five days. They attend healthy living classes, and receive intense art, occupational and group therapy. The program can serve as a transition from hospital care to community living, or it can serve as a sort of "refresher" when traditional outpatient therapy isn't meeting a patient's needs.

Laura says life isn't perfect. For example, she can't cope with the stress of travelling out of town, so she doesn't see her relatives as often as she'd like and misses family events. But she says she has made great strides. She goes to the "Y," spends time with friends and even volunteers at Temple. She says it's remarkable because just six months ago, she was too sick to even hold down a volunteer position.

Laura hopes to progress even further, thanks to what the program has taught her about herself. She says she's learned she's an intelligent, worthwhile person and that it is possible to get help if she's willing to get it.

Information on the Partial Hospital Program and other treatment options for mental illness by contacting Stormont-Vail West at 785-270-4600.


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