The Norman Transcript

October 10, 2012

Removing the stigma from mental health issues

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal proclaimed this week as Mental Illness Awareness Week, and Norman resident Michael Cordial spoke on the benefit of numerous agencies that meet the needs of the community’s mental health population.

“With the great society around me and a little footwork done by me, my dreams are being unveiled before me,” a tearful Cordial told Norman City Council members. “I thank several agencies — Griffin Memorial Hospital, Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center, Transition House and Thunderbird Clubhouse — because these agencies/entities are contributors to my reality and the very dream I live for.

“I want to thank Norman, Okla., for being so beautiful to me. I am a success at the very thing I left college to do because I am able to follow my hopes and desires without interruption. I wanted a place to sell my artwork, make art and enjoy living.

“I am doing just that and more because people told me the truth about all I needed to do, and I did the things they told me and more so I could keep getting the results I am getting and so I could help others,” Cordial said.

Members of the city council and the audience gave Cordial a standing ovation as he concluded his speech.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Since 1990, advocates across the country have used this week to sponsor activities that foster outreach, education and advocacy.

Among the many organizations serving those in Norman who are challenged by mental health issues, Thunderbird Clubhouse provides a supportive community and the opportunity to rejoin the work force.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Thunderbird Clubhouse is hosting a Potato Bar fundraiser for United Way from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $5 per person at the Clubhouse, 251 Triad Village Drive, off 12th Avenue Southeast between Alameda and Boyd streets.

According to the mayor’s proclamation, serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder and posttraumatic stress disorders affect one in every four people annually.

Scientific research is producing breakthroughs making serious mental illness a highly treatable disease, resulting in more effective treatments to allow people to reclaim full and productive lives.

Mental Illness Awareness Week is one means of educating the public to help eliminate misunderstandings and the stigma often imposed on those who suffer from mental illness. Numerous agencies in Norman work together to ensure those dealing with mental illness have the resources needed to live a productive life.

Legacy Park becoming reality: In other city business, during the city council’s study session, city attorney Jeff Bryant made a presentation on the University North Park Tax Increment Finance District.

“We have received the deed and the final plat for Legacy Park from the developer,” Bryant said.

Bids for the park will be let in November, and construction is expected to begin the first of year. Other work, including an extension of the frontage road, will continue, as will intersection improvements through the TIF district.

There is also money set aside for an Economic Development Fund of $8.25 million, which is “intended to foster special employment opportunities,” Bryant said.

The Norman Economic Development Coalition received a $2.5 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration in September and is buying more acreage for the industrial park area of the TIF project.

While the official announcement has not been made, reports of a possible aerospace manufacturer locating in the TIF district’s industrial area has been widely discussed.

Strategic Water Supply: Council members also heard from John Rehring, Carollo Engineers vice president and project manager of Norman’s 2060 Strategic Water Supply Plan, which is in the process of looking at projected long-range demands within the Norman water service area.

The project is in Phase 1, the identification of individual supply sources. Once viable supply options are selected, during Phase 2, a portfolio with a variety of sources will be created for Norman to develop.

There will be a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 to discuss the Strategic Water Supply Plan with Norman residents and to reveal survey results of opinion polls on factors that are most important including affordability, long-term reliability, environmental impact and others.


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