Center helps those with mental illness

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

Harold Flick believes those with mental illness often feel as if they have no place to turn. They feel alone, as if no one understands them, he said.

But, there is a place for those who need “a family” to call their own, Flick said.

Consumers Helping Consumers Inc., at 706 Park Ave., has opened what it calls a “drop-in center” for those with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression. The center has computers, televisions, air hockey, a foosball table, a treadmill, a library and other games and activities. All are free to Lawrence County residents who are now or have in the past received mental health services.

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Flick, who has bipolar disorder, is the executive director of the project, which is funded by the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Lawrence, Scioto and Adams counties.

“It gives people somewhere to come. They can come here and relax without being aggravated,” 57-year-old Flick said.

The center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has about 150 people who come through its doors monthly. Flick said each person is welcomed with open arms.

“People have always come to me for help and I enjoy doing it. I’m not a psychiatrist or anything, but I still like to help those who need it,” he said.

Lorra Fuller, ADAMHS program director of consumer relations, said the center is a valuable asset to those who are affected by mental illness. She said it offers the peer support that many of them are lacking in their lives.

“This gives them the support they need to maintain their lives in the community,” Fuller said.

Although Consumers Helping Consumers receives state funding, Fuller explained that those with mental illnesses run it on a daily basis. The organization has its own board of directors and decides independently what it will spend its money on and what activities they will have at the center.

“I’ve got an eighth-grade education, but I’ve been taught to do everything around here,” Flick said. “I think you can teach anybody if they want to learn bad enough. I do all the bookkeeping and the finances and each year when they audit me I balance to the penny.”

Flick said he hopes to expand the center’s programs in the near future to offer classes for things such as crocheting and computer skills. The organization is also getting a new van for those who need transportation to the center.

Flick is also head of the thrift shop located in the rear of the center, also operated by Consumers Helping Consumers. It sells a variety of items and is also open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.