Mental illness can be seen as a taboo subject, but not today. There will be an “honest and open” discussion about the history of mental illness in the Russell Special Collections building on UGA’s campus.
Reporter Emily Boyer was there at the symposium today. She has the story on who was there and what stories were shared.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqr5FMlRkWA&w=640&h=360]
Today’s Mental Health Symposium did not shy away from the hard topics. There were tears, shocking moments, and recalled accounts of a harrowing history in the treating of mental illness. Keynote Speaker Kim Nielsen and Professor of Disability Studies and History gave a presentation on the history of how mental disabilities have been handled nationally and specifically in Georgia. She said we’ve experience a shift from facility treatment to treatments that are open and nonrestrictive for the patient.
A Disability Activist, Jerome Lawrence is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia but he doesn’t let that keep him down. He says that people with mental disabilities,
“We can’t always do everything– or everything that is expected of us but we can do something.”
Jerome’s something is painting. His artwork was displayed throughout the symposium. He says his talent helps him disprove the stigma around mental illnesses.
Though today’s symposium centered around sharing stories and facilitating conversation, the emotion and empathy could be felt in the room. The hope is that today’s events will bring awareness and legislative reform to current mental health laws.