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Hospital's campaign highlights mental illness

News-Topic - 7/15/2018

July 13--The branches of a paper tree arch out along a wall inside Caldwell Memorial Hospital, each leaf representing a mental illness -- bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder.

Placed on the first floor, the tree is part of an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of mental illness in the community, establishing a cultural foundation for Caldwell UNC Health Care's proposed behavioral health pavilion.

Right now, there are about 300 leaves, each placed by someone who has been affected in some way by mental illness -- either their own or a family member's, said Alicia Stanislaw, service line director of psychiatry, women and children.

"When we look at creating a community-based behavioral health program, one of the most important things is the culture in which the care is provided," she said.

Hospital officials hope the tree, which was put up in May, will increase awareness of the prevalence of mental illness and lessen the stigma that surrounds a mental health diagnosis.

"We can change the way the world sees mental illness," Stanislaw said.

Construction of the behavoral health pavilion is expected to begin late this year. When completed, it will include a 28-bed inpatient unit, an outpatient clinic and a resource center for families to learn about mental health and illnesses.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.


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