FLORENCE — A Decatur man who battled and defeated schizophrenia will be the featured speaker for the 20th candlelight vigil for Mental Illness Awareness Week, which is next week.
The event will be Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Riverbend Auditorium.
The vigil is sponsored by the Shoals and Winston County chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Shoals Sharing Group.
The event is free to the public and refreshments will be served.
James Hickman will share his personal story of recovery from schizophrenia. He is a psychotherapist at the Huntsville/Madison County Mental Health Center and past president of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Decatur.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996, Hickman was committed to a state institution. After years of struggle, he returned to college earning a Master’s degree in social work, became a licensed certified social worker and began working in 2004 to help others in their struggle with mental illness.
Hickman is the author of the book, “The Mindful Son: A Beacon of Hope Through the Storm of Mental Illness.”
In the book, he shares his story of recovery and describes how to overcome the most daunting barriers to success.
“I want people to know that the obstacles created by mental illness can be overcome with time, determination and the right mind-set,” Hickman said.
“There’s hope out there. Recovery means different things to difference people. I just want people to make the most of their potential.”
He said his background certainly works in his favor with his job because “I can empathize for having been through these experiences myself.”
Vigil organizer Betty Robertson said Hickman’s story brings hope to those suffering with a mental illness and is proof that treatment works.
“Having an actual consumer (of mental health services) as the speaker, it will help fight the stigma associated with mental illness,” Robertson said. “This helps show that most people with mental illness function well because treatment is effective. It helps people understand. We want to not only combat the stigma associated with mental illness, we want to make people aware that it can happen in any family.”
There will be a fundraiser dinner 4-7 p.m., Oct. 12 provided by Whole Hog Express at St. Joseph Parish Hall, in Florence.
Tickets for barbecue chicken plates will be sold in advance for $10. Participants may dine in or take it out.
The deadline for advance tickets is noon Oct. 9. Contact the Shoals NAMI office for tickets at 256-765-2081.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.
Who: James Hickman, who battled and defeated schizophrenia will be the featured speaker.
What: 20th candlelight vigil for Mental Illness Awareness Week, sponsored by the Shoals and Winston County chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Shoals Sharing Group.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 9
Where: Riverbend Auditorium
Details: The event is free to the public and refreshments will be served.