Every family is touched by someone they love with a mental illness.
Josh’s Journey: A Foundation of Hope is a not for profit organization that was founded in the small community of Wheatfield, adjacent to the Niagara Falls region in Western New York. The foundation’s origin began in February of 2009 shortly after the death of Joshua Skrzypek, age 21 years. Josh lost his life to suicide following a lengthy struggle with bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that originated in his teens.
One of the obstacles that Josh faced during his lifetime was the stigma that is associated with a diagnosis of mental illness. The term mental illness inherently suggests that an individual is “mental”, “crazy”, or “cuckoo”. The stigma that is associated with mental illness is hurtful and damaging. Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and others, are brain-based illnesses. Many individuals who have a diagnosable brain-based illness do not seek treatment because of the stereotyped associations and stigma. Individuals that do seek treatment, often do not maintain appropriate interventions and treatment due to the same.
Josh’s Journey prepares to openly discuss mental illness and suicide, and by doing so, to open doors to communication. It is our hope that people who are afraid to seek treatment, will seek treatment; and those who are active in treatment, will have the much needed support of an entire community.