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 June 13, 2003
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Facing Mental Illness
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Butler Hospital
Nothing To Hide Exhibit

Nicki Sahlin never thought that her son would grow up to have to deal with a serious mental illness. 

"He was an honor student, he was an athlete. He had many friends. He was so likeable, and of such good temperament. Then almost overnight everything changed", says Nicki.

At age 18, Nicki's son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and for the last 20 years he and his family have had to struggle with his disease.  Through the years, his face never showing the signs of mental illness.  Butler Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill, has sponsored a national photo exhibit, which portrays stories of people and families like Nicki's.  Families struggling to deal with mental illness and also to fight the stigma often attached to it.

"I think that through common language and the movies we see, there are negative stereotypes that are portrayed of people who have mental illness", says Butler Hospital psychiatrist Lisa Shea. 

 The exhibit, called "Nothing To Hide", is aimed at putting a face to mental illness.  It shows that the disease can affect people in all walks of life and hopefully send a message to those who may be suffering.

"Mental illnesses are medical illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes and they are treatable", says Dr. Shea.

"Mental illness is an equal opportunity disease. It happens in all kinds of families", says Nicki.

Families like Nicki's, who have faced a disease and are coping with its harsh consequences.

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