Thresholds provides transition for those with mental illness

May 2, 2013 10:08:50 AM PDT
People with mental illness need support and resources when making the transition from living in nursing home back into the community.

A local not-for-profit agency is making that possible with a place called Freedom Center.

Thresholds Freedom Center South is a busy place.

"We have several classes throughout the day that covers topics ranging from mental health to physical health to apartment safety," said Jessica Townsend, team leader supervisor. "And then if someone is not interested in classes, we have a pool table, there's games, there's a television; we go on outings, things like that, so it's a really fun laid back environment."

All services are free.

"I'm basically notified if somebody is sort of eligible to come to the center, and I go out and meet with each member when they are still living in a nursing home, and I let them know about the Freedom Center and the services that are available to them," said Townsend.

Otis Thomas got involved with Thresholds when he needed help.

"It goes all the way back to my childhood when I was diagnosed with manic depression," he said. "I was going throughout life not knowing how I was feeling, then I just ran across an organization like Thresholds."

Otis spent a few years living in a nursing home. He moved out a year and a half ago. Three times a week he comes to the Freedom Center.

"It's comfortable, the staff is great. I know all the staff members, and you know, I'm a part of it every day because you know I need that in my life cause they were there when I needed them," he said.

There are currently three Freedom Centers - two in the city and one in Kankakee. They have plans to open more.

"It's important that the members that have moved into the community have a place to go during the day so they're not lonely. They're socializing, they have a chance to interact with other people instead of sitting home by themselves," Townsend said.

"I know just because I have a disability doesn't mean I can't seek out a place where I can get some help for myself I'm just lucky enough that this place was there when I was looking, Otis said.

There are also several Freedom Centers around the country. For more info visit http://www.thresholds.org/explore-thresholds .


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