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  • Health Forum in Aberdeen Examines Living Life with Mental Illness

Published on May 01, 2013

Health Forum in Aberdeen Examines Living Life with Mental Illness

Living with mental illness can be a big challenge, but creating awareness in the community about what is involved in recovery can be a big first step. A free health forum, In Our Own Voice,featuring speakers Lois Knoke and Sandy Peterson of Huron, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in Aberdeen at Avera St. Luke’s Education Center, 709 Sixth Ave. S.E.

The presentation is a powerful, anti-stigma tool that hopes to change hearts, minds and attitudes about mental illness. “In Our Own Voice” is a unique public education program developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), where two speakers share compelling personal stories about living with mental illness and working toward recovery. The program was started with a grant from Eli Lily and Co.

These women are living proof that recovery from mental illness is an ongoing reality. It’s also an opportunity for them to gain self-confidence, self-esteem and income while serving as role models for the community. Insight can be gained into how people with serious mental illnesses cope with the realities of their disorders while reclaiming productive lives. The audience can ask questions from the real experts, the ones who "have been there."

Knoke currently serves on the state NAMI Board of directors. She earned a general home economics degree with an art minor from the University of Northern Iowa and later a human service degree from Upper Iowa University. Peterson, originally from Alaska, has worked as a cashier at McDonald’s for 12 years. She has served as president of NAMI Huron and has presented “In Our Own Voice” for the past three years. She lists as her accomplishments “stayed out of the hospital for 13 years now.”

“Pathways to Wellness,” this year’s theme for Mental Health Month in May, calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.

Health care professionals from Avera St. Luke’s Behavioral Health will be on hand at the forum to help answer questions. Educational information from Avera St. Luke’s Occupational Therapy, Worthmore Addiction Services and Behavioral Health, NAMI, Lutheran Social Services and Northeastern Mental Health will be available. Preregistration is not necessary, and refreshments will be served.