Woman working to change alarming mental illness statistics - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Woman working to change alarming mental illness statistics


Mental illness touches one in four Americans in any given year, but one local woman is working hard to overcome the statistic.

Amy Tibbitts is the director of a unique center where hundreds of Kansas Citians are getting the help they desperately need.

Tibbitts said she's committed to helping people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder recover and renew their lives. She's the head of Lilac Center, housed in an established, welcoming structure in the Hospital Hill area of Kansas City. Through its doors come people - many of them teens - with all sorts of issues, from self-harming to bullying to suicide.

"There's all types of situations where people get anxious and overwhelmed. They might find that soothing and take it too far and this is a place where we can get people and restore people back to health," Tibbitts said.

She employs 10 therapists and one psychiatrist. Tibbitts said mental illness is like any other ailment - when a person is not feeling well, they seek a professional for help.

"If somebody got the diagnosis of diabetes, they would go to a dietician and learn how to follow a diabetic diet and so, for mental health, this is like the central things that people need to do to manage mental illness," she said.

Tibbitts opened the Lilac Center in 2001 and has built it into a place where patients feel safe. It even looks less like a doctor's office and more like home. Most insurance plans are accepted and therapists and patients stay in touch in between sessions, especially during times of crisis.

"If anybody during the week has had any suicide attempt, self-harm, eating disorder behavior, or substance abuse problems that are acute and been increasing, then we staff all of those cases and try to problem solve how to make sure people are safe," she said.

Tibbitts is a Kansas native and, after post-graduate work in Wyandotte County, said she saw a need for such a place in the city. In addition to the help she provides, she said she gets something in return.

"Being a strong woman, especially for my daughter. I see her and I just want to show her that it is true, that she can follow her own visions and nothing is out of reach - it just takes a lot of work," she said.

Tibbitts has also written a book that's mean to help people learn whether they have a mental disorder and how to overcome it.

Click here to learn more and get help for personality disorders.

Click here for more on Tibbitts' Lilac Center.

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