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Watch: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness | Ben’s Friends | Historic Academy Theatre

Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness
This story inspired by NAMI Virginia (National Alliance on Mental Illness) hopes to help enlighten & end the stigma of mental illness with a personal, moving story of coping with bipolar disorder by an accomplished educator, Tammy Ozolins. Tammy talks about not knowing what was wrong with her when she went from highs to lows, and how often it was written off as being just a phase of a teenager, but the roller coaster of emotions and not feeling hope and trying to take her life was more than she could bare. She found the right help, medication and slowly brought the pieces of her puzzled life back together with the love of her twin brother who doesn’t have bi-polar, family and friends.

Ben’s Friends: Addiction in the Restaurant Industry
A look at the high level of addiction within the restaurant industry and how a support group is giving them hope. Ben’s Friends was brought to Richmond by two renowned chefs who have battled addiction themselves. They say the industry culture feeds addiction with late nights, stress and access to alcohol.

The Historic Academy Theatre
After being closed for 60 years in 2018 the Historic Academy Theatre in Lynchburg opened its doors. We take a peek inside this theatre that had suffered damage in the past from fire, weather, and other elements, but now has been fully renovated and seats 800. We talk with Executive Director of Academy Center of the Arts, Geoff Kershner about the theatre. He shares why he felt it was important to highlight that when the theatre reopened it would be an integrated facility unlike when it closed in 1958 it was segregated. Geoff shows us an area dedicated to honor Ms. Lottie the African American employee who manned the box office for the “colored” section during the segregation period. Geoff shares that the city of Lynchburg may have suffered a “certain” stigma in the past but this historic theatre proves that there is room for change, and the arts is a valuable tool that can be used to transform old ways and renew deep rooted mindsets.

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