Last Friday, Institute For Community Living, held an open house to introduce the community to its latest center in Brownsville, located at 484 Rockaway Avenue. The center was packed to capacity.
Why all the hoopla? Well, ICL has been instrumental in addressing one of the most widespread– but least discussed– illnesses affecting the residents of Central Brooklyn: mental illness.
Since 1986, ICL has been providing the residents of New York City transitional housing, counseling, rehabilitation, and other services for people with mental illness, along with help for people with substance abuse and developmental disabilities.
The truth is, people who experience trauma and never address it eventually begin to experience mental distress. Over time, and if left untreated, this can lead to various degrees of mental illness. This could be be your neighbor, your merchant, your friend… or even you. What’s so unfortunate is that far too often, many people are living with mental illness but are unaware they are suffering– or if they are aware, they fail to seek the help they need or are unaware that help exists.
“I have experienced extensive trauma throughout most of my life, and I did not even know how to properly handle it until I discovered ICL,” said Jean Sanders, a Bushwick native and a long term client of ICL. “I’ve seen family members die before my eyes, and had a very tough childhood. The thing about people is, a lot of us don’t like to talk about our trauma.
“ICL was able to diagnose me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar Disorder, and has helped me greatly since.”
Sanders has since published a book, How To Save A Life, poems and inspirations for those living with mental illness.
“The challenges we face with clients is getting people to really own up to their issues, so that they can begin to accept help,” said Nancy Nisselbaum, director of communications for ICL.
ICL serves as a way to help people get back on their feet, but it has to be on their terms, said Nisselbaum: “The purpose of these facilities is to integrate some of our clients back into the community. Feeling ‘weird” and like you don’t belong is often something clients feel when seeking treatment, and we hope that people realize that this should not be the case.”
ICL also runs a veteran’s shelter in Long Island City a women’s shelter in Brooklyn and a Family Resource Center– a valuable tool for parents of children with emotional and behavioral issues. At the Family Center, parents learn about services that benefit their children, in addition to numerous other advocacy services for households dealing with Family Court, the Department of Education and health care providers.
“Our slogan, ‘People Get Better With Us’, is really what we are all about,” said ICL CEO David Woodlock, as he pointed to the slogan behind him. “Unlike similar organizations, we aren’t trying to position our staff as role models for clients. What we want is to just help people become the best version of themselves as possible.”
By providing families with theses services, ICL helps families connect not only with support but also one another. To learn more about ICL and its programs, call (888) 425-0501.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.