May is Mental Health Awareness Month, aiming to eliminate the st - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, aiming to eliminate the stigma

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Thursday May 1 kicked off Mental Health Awareness Month. It is held each May to help improve the lives of those living with a mental illness and to eliminate the stigma attached to it.

Members of the Thomas M. Wernert Center shared their experiences with mental illness and how the centers are helping them along the way.

An estimated amount of 25,000 Lucas County residents receive services from the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. Each day around 75 people spend time at the Thomas M. Wernert Center in Toledo. It offers recovery and support for those living with a mental illness.

"Combating stigma and strategies to reduce stigma is a big part of what Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board should be doing. We would just ask everybody in the community to think a little bit more about mental illness and how it effects their families," said executive director Scott Sylak.

Michael Edminson, now 29, was diagnosed with mental illness in his early 20's. He was just two weeks away from graduating from Devry University when he was hospitalized.

"I was able to graduate. My professor's were great, because I was in the hospital for like the last two weeks of my course and so I was able to graduate and then the symptoms turned and it was from depression to bi-polar and then schizoaffective," said Edminson.

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms.

In August, Edminson went to the Thomas M. Wernert Center after spending time at the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital. He lives on his own and spends a few hours each day at the center.

Edminson is full of life, loves sports, likes to karaoke, and work on computers. The center, he says, has been incredible for his recovery.

"What's beautiful about it is you've got friends, peer support, coping skills, everything here. If you're looking for fun, friends and recovery, this is the place to be," said Edminson.

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