Members of the Thomas M. Wernert Center (TMWC) responded to a negative sign posted outside of the center with sign messages of their own. The members were answering to the recent publicity regarding a negative and suggestive sign placed on private property, directly outside of the center for all those entering the TMWC building to see.
"When all of this started, we all were greatly disturbed by the message on the sign. Initially there was a feeling of helpless ness by members and staff. The property is privately owned and sits adjacent to our parking lot, says Patti Robb, Executive Director of TMWC. Members and staff collaborated in coming up with a constructive way to respond. Yard signs were placed around the TMWC building by members and staff with uplifting and affirming messages. Phrases like "You belong here, and "Stop the stigma!" counter messaging. "The staff at TMWC spend a lot of time working members on learning to self- advocate as part of their recovery," she adds.
According to TMWC member Lucy Dias, the Wernert Center is a safe space for members to come and work on themselves; a place they can count on to not be treated differently or judged on the stigma that comes with mental illness. “We wanted to do something about the sign that was both positive and legal," she says. “Our time at TMWC is spent doing encouraging and educational activities that help uswith our recovery. We want everyone to know they are welcome here and do not have to worry about what others say or think," says Lucy.