A mental health thank you

Donna Shibovich is a consumer representative and official greeter for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Northern Nevada chapter.

Back in 1995, I came from Chicago to Reno. As a person diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, I was scared and unfamiliar with the mental health system here in Nevada. Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services helped me adjust. They helped me find the support and funding I needed to get my own place and furnish it. Later, I was given a case manager, and NNAMHS became my Social Security payee. I cannot express how much they have helped me balance my budget and pay bills.

My current case manager is a caring nurse named Renee Jurosovich. She sees me several times a week. We have a nice little group called the Clozaril Club, named for an anti-psychotic medication. We get together a few times a month and go on outings. A nurse named Peggy, who specializes in psychiatry, sees me once a month. My life would be incomplete without these people.

During the day, I keep occupied with the psycho-social rehabilitation program, or PRP. I take a health class and, every morning, I go to 800 Club. Other classes include “Coping With Schizophrenia,” “Leisure Awareness,” “Stress Management” and “Relationships.” Every time I go, I learn something new.

PRP also hosts monthly birthday parties, and they provide snacks for a group I run called Our Time. This is a laid-back, feel-good group that averages 10 to 15 people.

One of the most vital services that PRP provides is employment counseling. My employment counselor, Helen Mitchell, helps me keep a job that I have had for more than six years. I work as the clean-up lady at JoAnn’s Fabric, and I really love my job. Without Helen, my caring employers and the compassionate people I work with, I would not have succeeded in the work force.

Another helpful and therapeutic department of NNAMHS is recreational therapy. Every Wednesday, we go on an outing. In October, we are going bowling and pumpkin picking in Fallon. Just recently, we’ve started being charged for outings. This is hard on people who are financially strapped. I would hate to see attendance dwindle because of the fees.

Another group in Nevada has also helped to build my self-esteem. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Northern Nevada has helped me cope with my illness. NAMI of Northern Nevada President Joe Tyler has helped me personally, and he runs a group for schizophrenics called Fast Tracks to Wellness. The group meets at 10 a.m. on Fridays at NNAMHS. Joe holds another mental health support group at 7 p.m. on Mondays at Washoe Medical Center. He also produces a TV show, Erasing the Stigma, that airs at 7 p.m. Thursdays on Channel 16. His show opens the minds of viewers with testimony and information on mental illness. I’ve been on the show three times.

All of the services of NNAMHS and NAMI certainly run circles around similar services in Chicago. Nevadans have done so much for me that I cannot thank everyone enough. Having tried to commit suicide 17 times, today I can confidently say that I’m glad I did not succeed. People here have changed my life and have made living worthwhile. Thank you.