Mental illness awareness tour stops in Lima

First Posted: 6/3/2014

LIMA — For 40 years, Adam Holbrook has struggled with schizophrenia. For much of that time, society didn’t understand the brain disorder and doctors had limited options for treatment. The combination of better understanding of mental health illness, improved drugs and treatment options, and support of loved ones have made all the difference for Holbrook.

The author, speaker and photographer shared some of his story Tuesday during a visit from the NAMImobile, a touring RV from National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI Ohio had the RV in Lima, Ottawa and Findlay Tuesday, part of the organization’s plan to visit 100 Ohio communities this summer. NAMI is spreading the message that one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year, and that getting good information and facts about mental illness can combat discrimination people with disorders face.

“People see me now, and find it hard to believe, but I was homeless at one point,” Holbrook said.

Today, he’s about to publish his fourth book, and sits on the board of Mental Health and Recovery Services of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties and is the president of the local NAMI board. His wife of 35 years, Mary, has been by his side, he said, supporting him even when she wasn’t sure how.

A class called Family to Family helped her and other loved ones understand mental illness and how to empathize, relate and support, Mary and Adam said.

The class and other supports like it are possible through partnerships between NAMI and local boards that contract with providers for service. The mental health board provides a phone line service and walk-in service in Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties. Call 800-567-4673 for service.

Discrimination or fear of discrimination can cause a person to not seek help for an illness, NAMI Ohio spokeswoman Katie Dillon said. The group is touring to raise awareness of mental health disorders so people feel more comfortable asking for help, she said.

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