Program Aims to Help Young Adults with Mental Illness Live Productive, Normal Lives
As the de Blasio administration prepares to bolster city mental health services, a new program already in operation is promising to help young adults with serious mental illness live productive, normal lives.
College is a time of self-discovery, learning and having fun. But
for Shannon Pagdon, trying to balance it all with a recent diagnosis
of schizophrenia made this exciting time terrifying.
"It was just very stressful and anxiety-provoking," Pagdon
says. "I was worried about making friends and having to tell them
this, and I was just worried what they would think."
Pagdon dropped out freshman year and moved to New York to be with
her father. She knew she would return to school but would need help
doing so. That's when she found the new college re-entry program at
"There's really a need because colleges and universities don't
necessarily have the resources on campus to help students, and so when
students have to take a leave, they don't really have any place to
go," says Jason Bowman, director of Fountain House's College
Fountain House has been a leader for 65 years, helping people with
serious mental illness to transition from clinical treatment to normal
life. Now, they're honing in on helping college kids in the early
stages of their mental illness.
"In this program, we hope to address early onset of mental
illness earlier to help young adults really understand that this is
not the end of their life," Bowman says.
The students are taught about healthy eating and cooking, ways to relieve stress and how to improve study habits.
The 15-week program costs $10,000, but scholarships are available.
Pagdon says she's a different woman now because of it.
"That was really groundbreaking for me, was being around people
who had been through the same thing," she says. "I would say
that a lot of the stuff that really helped me was stress-relieving.
Just kind of how to cope with anxiety. I really have trouble taking
Pagdon says at times, she still hears voices and deals with depression, but with medication and coping tools, she's doing pretty well and is back in school.
As Fountain House works to grow its program, the state is expanding
its efforts to help people experiencing their first episode of
psychosis. Erin Billups will have more on that in her next report.