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Mental health center marks 40 years in Northwest Indiana

May 14, 2014

MERRILLVILLE | A community mental health center that initially opened for patients transitioning out of state-run hospitals is celebrating its 40th year in Northwest Indiana.

With its new tagline slogan, “Recovering lives. Restoring families,” Edgewater Behavioral Health Services is building a year-long celebration of the anniversary, culminating with a bigger version of its annual gala in October.

Opened in 1974, Edgewater, which operates eight locations including five group homes, is headquartered in Gary but serves all of Northwest Indiana, as far east as Michigan City, said Danita Johnson Hughes, president and CEO of Edgewater.

It offers behavioral health care services to individuals and families, such as addiction services, psychological testing and psychological counseling.

A recent undertaking was the opening of South Shore Commons, a 60-unit, two-story complex that serves homeless people who have disabilities, homeless families, those who earn a very low income, families at risk for homelessness and small families with specific needs.

Along with housing, it provides on-site supportive services and case management by Edgewater, including mental health care, service coordination and case management.

During an anti-bullying luncheon Wednesday, Sharon Johnson-Shirley, member of the Edgewater Board of Directors and superintendent of Lake Ridge Schools, referenced South Shore Commons as one of the recent successes.

“Edgewater looks forward to another 40 years of making a difference in the community,” she said.

The luncheon included a short local film about the impact of bullying on children and adults.

Called, “Comes to Shove,” it was created by Mark Spencer, an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University Northwest in Gary and director of the Gary West Side Theatre.

Nearly 60 percent of U.S. children experience some type of bullying, primarily in school and online, Spencer said.

Johnson Hughes said the impact of bullying extends beyond youth.

“It follows you throughout your life,” she said.

The featured speaker at the luncheon was Mark Sanders, a lecturer at the University of Chicago, social worker and violence prevention specialist.

Sanders spoke about steps to eliminate bullying in schools and communities, including the role everyone plays in eradicating bullying.