More common than cancer

Why is it that cancer is so easy to talk about,

z10f"TimesRomanNews": but when one mentions mental illness, a room can grow quiet?When will our community take [a] personal interest in the lives of people suffering from schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder and other illnesses? When will we stop being afraid to ask for help if, in fact, we feel we have been targeted by one or more of these mind-altering sicknesses? When will we stop blaming ourselves or laughing at others when a mis-wiring of the brain has occurred?

The topic of mental illness is serious and far from humorous, especially when it attacks loved ones or even ourselves.

“When people suffer from mental illness, embarrassment and humiliation keep them from coming forward,” says Margaret Osby, board president of The Next Level Foundation. “How do you tell a 30-year-old adult that all of [a] sudden they need to take medication for the rest of their life in order to stabilize their brain?”

Osby goes on to explain that when someone is seriously disturbed, more often than not, it stems from refusing medication altogether or, [after] stabilizing on medication, feeling fine and then stopping the medication because everything seems all right. Once the medication is stopped, the sickness will take over the mind again, bringing us back to square one. After repeating this routine several times, one is apt to lose touch with their brain, thus making it nearly impossible to live independently again.

Osby states, “Our mission at Next Level is to empower our clients with self-esteem and the desire to get well and live independently again.”

The Next Level Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to rehabilitating mentally ill adults and preparing them for independent living. Next Level currently operates at two locations in Orangevale close to the Sunrise Mall. The Next Level Foundation is clearly a project with promising solutions to many problems society should not ignore. Next Level provides housing, meals and a loving, yet professional, environment for nearly two dozen clients at any given time.

“If the community is made aware of how little it takes to make a difference, many would be compelled to help,” Osby asserts.

The foundation is in need of donations in any form. Food, clothes, computer equipment, kitchen items, furniture and transportation are just a few of the items needed to operate day-to-day at Next Level. One phone call to 989-0318 and a Next Level representative will arrive within 48 hours to pick up your tax-deductible donation.

[We] are looking for businesses and individuals to host a holiday canned food drive. Please contact Next Level for a program description, a copy of our needs list or for information about how you can make a difference.