Amanda Diiulis on Destigmatizing MentalÂ IllnessÂ
What cause are you representing and why is it important to highlight?
The cause I am highlighting is mental illness. This cause is important to highlight because 1 in 4 adults (about 61 million people) are currently living with or have experienced mental illness and the majority of the public is still uneducated about how to help, what to do in certain situations and how to talk about it.Â The Kenneth Young CenterÂ has been providing mental health and senior services for 45 years, and in fiscal year 2015, we touched the lives of over 27,000 people with our staff of 180 employees and 480+ volunteers.
What new or innovative developments are taking place to either increase awareness or to address the issue itself?
In the community, we are constantly out at networking events with multiple different chambers and organizations getting the word out about what the Kenneth Young Center does. We meet people from all walks of life, from young professionals to seniors who want to know more about our cause and how they can get involved.
Secondly, we recently have opened up our drop-in center in March at our Mount Prospect location that allows anyone 18 or older who self identifies as living with a mental illness, or co-occurring issues, to have a space to hang out, recover and socialize. The space is also open to families and friends supporting someone living with a mental illness. Our Certified Recovery Support Specialists (C.R.S.S.) incorporate messages of wellness, discovery and recovery through a various number of activities such as community excursions, evidence-based classes and community education. On opening day, 37 individuals visited the center. This is extraordinary considering we did not have any marketing beforehand.
Lastly, another aspect to our organization is our Resale shop in Schaumburg. Our shopâ€™s staff is primarily comprisedÂ of volunteers, including some of our clients. Client involvement is important becauseÂ the experience teaches them how to work in a professional environment, and eases them into socializing with the general public.
How can YNPN members and supporters help or get more involved?
In a broad sense, YNPN members can educate themselves on the myths and facts of mental illness and then pass that information along to friends and family because the majority of people know someone who isÂ dealing with a mental illness. Secondly, they can practice compassion towards others. A lot of people living with mental illnesses have a difficult time with everyday tasks such as motivating themselves or staying focused. As a general rule, members can be patient because they may not be aware of someone elseâ€™s struggles.
KYC is always looking for volunteers for the resale shop or any type of project people develop. We also love when new people attend our events. On March 31stÂ we are having a networking and art gallery event at The Drink in Schaumburg fromÂ 5:30-8 p.m.Â In lieu of a door fee, we are asking for art supplies for our drop-in center. Lastly,Â like any non-profit, you can donate money onÂ our website.
Is there anything else youâ€™d like us to know about your cause?
While KYC does so much for communities and mental health, we also are dedicated toÂ senior care. We have a team focusingÂ on elder abuse, independent living and caring for a senior. In fiscal year 2015, we served 10,577 seniors and delivered 26,982 meals to home-bound seniors.