Helping Hands, May 16, 2012

  • Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A feature
about people
whose work
touches our lives

President of Mental Health
America in Georgetown County
Native of the Dunbar
Community of Georgetown
Graduate of HGTC with a Human Services degree, Retired technician at Georgetown Memorial Hospital

How did you start helping people with mental illness?
I was working at Georgetown Memorial Hospital as a ward clerk and monitor technician.
I had to retire in 1986 and go on† disability because of mental illness.
I had some terrible years, taking different medications.
They wanted to put me on Lithium and thatís when I said, ĎI donít think my answer is in a pill.í
After that, I worked as a volunteer in the VISTA program for five years.
I worked in protection and advocacy for people with disabilities. I also worked with the Diabetes Core Group for 10 years, helping people deal with diabetes.
Mental Health America seemed like a good fit for me. Our mission is to raise awareness about mental health issues and to be advocates for people with mental illness.
We are not clinicians, but we refer people to clinicians. People can contact us at 843-264-1090.
What do people not understand about mental illness?
People are so afraid of mental illness. It is a disease like any other disease.
People donít need to be afraid of people with mental illness because they are just people. And mental illness can be diagnosed and treated.
People who have mental illness try to cover it up and their friends and family try to cover it up.
We need to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness.

What would you like to tell people who have mental illness?

I would like to tell them to talk to someone.
Find someone you trust.
People say there is no one out there to talk to and some people are even afraid to talk to their minister. And it doesnít always go away if you pray.
Some things God left you here to do and you need to go to a doctor.
Can you tell me about the upcoming walk event?
Mental Health America is co-sponsoring a one-mile Walk for Mental Wellness starting at J.B. Beck Administration Building at 2030 Church Street in Georgetown.
It starts at 9 a.m. and registration starts at 8 a.m.

With what other groups are you involved?
I am on the board of Waccamaw Mental Health Center and the Nellie P. Doby Friends of Carvers Bay Library group.

Can you tell me about your family?
I am the oldest of 10 children.
I have four grown children, Thomas, Stephen, Woodrow, and Sonia (a niece I raised). I also have 12 grandchildren.

Ė as told to Clayton Stairs

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