Local center helps adults living with mental illness

Credit: Independence Center

Every year, about 20 percent of people deal with mental illness.

Chances are someone you know is dealing with it, and you may not even realize it because often it's something people are not comfortable talking about.

But a local organization is working to bring that conversation to the forefront, while changing the lives of hundreds of people in our community.

"I had been hearing voices since I was 10," said Brittany Adams.

At first, she says, she thought it was just her imagination.

"I thought I just had an overactive imagination, my parents thought I had an overactive imagination, but it just got progressively worse as I got older," said Adams.

Adams was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder when she was 21-years-old. "All I was doing was eating and sleeping my life away," she said.

The mother of four wanted more out of life, so she visited Independence Center, an organization for people living with mental illness. It provides a variety of different services from therapy to work opportunities.

Adams said, "I started to make connections and started feeling like my self-worth was coming up and my self-confidence has been boosted up from where it was five years ago." "Her story is one of hundreds who are in this organization of people who have come here and felt like this was a home," said Mark Bethell, Executive Director of Independence Center. Mental illness affects about one in five people. Odds are you know someone who struggles with it, yet it can still be so difficult to talk about

Adams said, "A lot of people are afraid of what they don’t know.""We always like as a society to know why it happened and what do we need to do, and the answers still aren't there yet," said Bethell. Adams wants that to change. She shares her story in hopes of helping others.

"I think the more education that’s out there, I think it will be a much better environment for people who suffer from mental illness," she said.

Independence Center's biggest fundraiser, Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, is Saturday night. Adams is one of several dancers who is participating. The event is sold out, but you can donate online.

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