I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Back to School Eli Lily Scholarship for Those with Severe Mental Illness

I am happy to bring you news of a scholarship sponsored by the Eli Lily company to help those with severe mental illness go back to school.  From their website:
The Lilly Reintegration Scholarship was established 16 years ago to help students with severe mental illness offset their tuition, books and lab fees. The program is designed to help individuals acquire the educational and vocational skills needed to reintegrate into society and is open to persons living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder and – this year the program expands to include those living with major depressive disorder, as well.
Apply now for the 2014-2015 school year!  Applications must be postmarked by January 31, 2014, and recipients will be notified in June 2014.
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My Thoughts:

Graduating from Georgia State University in 2006 was one of the hardest things I've ever done and I am very proud of that accomplishment!  I had to take several breaks from school and attend treatment centers for my eating disorder and my other mental illnesses, but I kept my graduation goal ever in my mind.  I wish I still had my graduation pictures on my computer, so I could post one of them on here for you to see.  I looked very differently almost eight years ago!

College was incredibly stressful and now I would not go back for any amount of money.  Every time I hear a back-to-school advertisement, I think to myself, "Thank God that I'm no longer in school and have to do homework!"  I made some lifelong, dear friends in college and I am so glad that I went, so I think scholarships like this are important, but I do think it is sad that colleges and universities are places that are so incredibly hard for people with severe mental illnesses to survive and do well in.  I encountered an astounding amount of stigma in college towards all of my mental illnesses, which came from the lack of understanding, empathy, and competence from some of my professors, the disability office, and shockingly, even most of the school counselors. (I graduated from GSU, but combined, I've attended three schools.  I will give credit by saying that I had a great therapist at GSU.)  

While I love that there is a scholarship to help mentally ill students go back to college, I would also like to see programs in place that would make sure that faculties and staff at schools are properly trained on how to work with mentally ill students and that the way that they do so is in a positive, empathetic, logical, and non-stigmatizing way.

What do you think? How could we make colleges better?  Pass this info on to anyone you know that wants to go back to school! 

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