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By Rohma Siddiqui
October is National Mental Illness Awareness Month and the Fort Wayne VA Hospital hosted an event to provide resources and education on mental illness and addiction.
WFFT’s Rohma Siddiqui spoke with healthcare officials and the keynote speaker at the event. She has more on what the VA is doing to raise awareness about mental health and recovery.
“I’m a survivor of early adolescent trauma, and then also of adult trauma, human trafficking, domestic violence. I had PTSD and I was homeless and I was a hardcore drug addict for 9 years.”
Marti MacGibbon, a former meth addict is now a motivational speaker, author, and standup comic. She travels around the country raising awareness for mental illnesses and recovery. She spoke at the VA Hospital of Northern Indiana in Fort Wayne.
“My mission in life is to break away the stigma surrounding all these things that I’ve overcome.”
Macgibbon says recovery is a possibility for anyone suffering from addiction.
“You have to be connected to a positive support network and that means getting rid of the negatives in your life, people that are dragging you down and that is hard to do if you’re caught up in a cycle of addiction and shame.”
“We have such a wide array of program and we’re so proud of what we offer. We offer evidence based therapies, we offer a recovery orient based programs that are outpatient. We offer programs for women, newly returned veterans a lot of different groups. We provide an array of services depending on what the veteran needs.”
Helen Rhodes is the Chief of Mental Health Services at the VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System.
“Raising the awareness is one of the biggest tools we have to reduce stigma, to get people to understand and get away from a blaming and stigmatizing culture to say we are here to provide help and for the invisible wounds. Mental health is a part of medical care.”
Dr. Robin Palsrok is a local recovery coordinator. Palsrok says using the message of someone’s personal experience can be a very useful resource for raising awareness on mental illnesses.
“Whether it’s PTSD or a substance abuse or schizophrenia, there are studies out there that show recovery is possible from mental illness.”
Healthcare officials say it takes a lot of courage to ask for help. If you are a veteran in need of help, you are encouraged to contact the VA.