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Mental illness support members speak at Elkhart council meeting

ELKHART, Ind. -- Elkhart council member Brian Dickerson wants to put an end to the feelings of fear that some community members have as a result of recent incidents of violence.  Monday, he invited local members of the National Association of Mental Illness to speak at the council meeting.  

Four years ago, Roger Copeland's family changed forever when his son came home from college, and they noticed something wasn't right.  

After seeking advice, Copeland tried to admit his son to Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, but his son refused.  And since he was over 18, Copeland did the only thing left to do, he called law enforcement.  

"When each time the handcuffs clicked, I thought I was getting stabbed in the heart, and that was very hard," says Copeland.  

His son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and today, he is living at home, still receiving treatment, and doing better.  

But Copeland says what gets him through each day is support from the community, and that's why he wanted to share his story, so others would know they're not alone and that help is available.  

"We have several programs, one being helping families learn how to be with their loved one who has mental illness," says Gwen Preheim-Bartel, a teacher with NAMI's Family-to-Family program.  

Members of NAMI want to educate about the illnesses, before violence ever becomes an option.  

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