Ending the Silence, Stopping the Stigma of Mental Illness


The statistics are, without a doubt, nothing short of staggering.

Mental illness is the number-one health problem facing our nation, yet research and access to treatment are still severely underfunded and our country’s mental health system is alarmingly overburdened. Less than 50 percent of people needing mental health care receive the necessary help or treatment.

Inhibiting mental illness treatment is the fact that, while one in five Americans suffer from a mental illness, it’s a problem that remains shrouded in stigma, discussed in hushed tones. Although 2.5 times more Americans suffer from mental illness than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, there is still much to be done to break the ongoing silence surrounding mental health.

The good news is, Lindner Center of HOPE, a non-profit comprehensive mental health center headquartered in Mason, has served as a lifeline for more than 37,000 patients and their families since the facility was established just over 10 years ago. The Center includes a state-of-the-science research institute as well as world-class inpatient and outpatient diagnosis and treatment programs. And Lindner Center of HOPE’s depth and breadth of mental health services are heralded as unmatched in the Midwest.

Realizing that greater financial investment is imperative for the Center to continue its trail-blazing treatment and management of mental illness, Cincinnati business leaders and humanitarians Linda and Harry Fath recently pledged a $50 million challenge gift. Responding to that challenge, Frances and Craig Lindner, Lindner Center of HOPE founders, made a $25 million commitment. Together, these more-than-generous gifts totaling $75 million signaled two of the largest donations in North America made by individuals in the area of mental health.

“The Lindner Center has helped many members of our extended family. Through much research I have learned how underserved mental health is, and how important it is for Lindner Center to get to a much higher level,” Harry says. “My wife and I decided something drastic has to be done to serve people suffering from mental illness and to address the financial cost of care. Our hope is that over time, we will raise well in excess of the $75 million. This would truly put the Center in a position to accomplish the original dream of establishing the nation’s leading comprehensive facility for mental health care.”

A New Era of Science and Healing

“Through these transformative gifts, the Faths and Lindners are inspiring everyone with a passion to improve mental health care to join them in supporting Lindner Center of HOPE,” says Paul Keck, M.D. As Lindner Center of HOPE’s President and CEO, he provides leadership and direction for the overall operations, and he coordinates the Center’s short- and long-range objectives.

A portion of the Faths’ and Lindners’ gifts is earmarked for patient financial assistance and for increasing mental health research, as well as expanding public outreach to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, Keck notes. Additional funding will help drive the development and expansion of new clinical programs, further advancing treatment – and hope – for those suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and other mental illnesses.

An estimated 21 million Americans need treatment for drug or alcohol problems, yet just over 10 percent of them receive that treatment, Keck points out. “Together we can ensure that people have access to life-changing care now and into the future.”

A Pioneer in Life-Changing Research

Lindner Center of HOPE was designed not only as a system of patient-and family-centered mental health care to be integrated across age, diagnosis and treatment setting, but also as a contributor to and an adoptor of cutting-edge research advances while serving as a provider of world-class individualized mental health care.

Working in affiliation with the UC College of Medicine, clinicians at the Center’s Research Institute continue to pioneer new methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses – no small feat, considering it can take up to 17 years before research findings become fully integrated into routine diagnostics and treatment, Lindner Center researchers note. To the Center’s credit, however, research plays a major role in patient care every day.

The Center’s researchers have published more than 800 scientific articles, received more than $15 million in grants at UC, and $6 million in grants since opening.  This research has been instrumental in developing new drugs offering improved therapeutic efficacy and safety in the treatment and management of depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders.

The Center’s Research Institute is also a member of the Harvard-based Clinical Trial Network, and a lead contributor to groundbreaking programs like the Mayo Clinic’s Individualized Medicine Biobank for Bipolar Disorder, which studies the connection between gene types and medicines available for treating the disease.

Additionally, Lindner Center of HOPE is recognized as one of only 22 members of the National Network of Depression Centers, which includes Harvard, John Hopkins, Stanford, Columbia and Duke universities, among others. This network helps depression centers band together in the development of emerging treatment protocols, thereby improving mental health care worldwide.

Real People, Real Families

Every eight minutes, someone in America dies from misuse of opioids.

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 in our country. Another sobering statistic: overall, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses in the U.S. exceed those killed in automobile accidents. Behind these numbers, of course, is the heartbreaking reality that children are losing parents, and parents are losing children through this public health emergency.

Moreover, the Cincinnati region has been labeled Ground Zero for the opioid crisis. Hamilton County in 2017 saw 31 percent more overdose deaths than the previous year, and deaths from Fentanyl – a synthetic opiate 50 times more potent than heroin – are up 1,000 percent since 2013. Furthermore, in nearby Warren County, unintentional drug deaths have tripled in less than a decade; in Butler County, the number has quadrupled.

While ever-so-slight progress has been made, Lindner Center of HOPE has reinforced its commitment to ending the opioid epidemic with decades of solid, science-proven research lighting the path toward lasting solutions. And the Lindner and Fath families are committed to devoting the resources necessary to shape those lasting solutions. Their goal, they say, is to make every family, community, policymaker and health care provider aware, equipped and engaged in the fight against opioid addiction.

“Addiction is truly a disease of the brain,” says Chris. J. Tuell, Ed.D., Clinical Director of Addiction Services at Lindner Center of HOPE.

At the core of treatment and care at the Center is the understanding that addiction is a chemical, DNA-driven disease of the brain, he explains.

“We meet people where they are, and we have assembled a strong team of addiction specialists who create individualized plans for each patient, surrounding them with compassion and an unwavering dedication to their recovery,” Tuell says.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment and recovery support for
opioid use disorders and other addictions are provided through the Center’s Sibcy House, Williams House and HOPE Center North. Plans may include medication-assisted treatment, therapy and support groups combined with other comprehensive methods such as treating possible underlying issues like depression or anxiety.

According to Tuell, research shows that addiction treatment with recovery medication creates the most effective path to long-term success. Lindner Center of HOPE’s approach to addiction recovery includes proven and advanced treatment techniques, such as detox, Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), family therapy and group support.

Mental illness is often an underlying cause of addiction, Tuell notes, adding that mental disorders left untreated makes long-term recovery difficult to achieve. Likewise, untreated addiction can impede long-term mental wellness.

“Lindner Center of HOPE is uniquely positioned to treat addiction and mental illness together,” Tuell says. “Inpatient, newly-expanded outpatient, and residential treatment programs led by our unified, multi-disciplinary treatment team are specifically designed to address both, enabling patients to truly recover from substance or
behavioral addictions.”

It’s Everybody’s Disease

The shame, embarrassment and discrimination accompanying the stigma of mental illness has cultivated a society that fears the open discussion of those issues, avoids admitting help is needed, and has allowed a system of care woefully neglected in many ways, Center officials note.

Lindner Center of HOPE, however, continues to battle the stigma associated with mental illness by always making education a pillar of its mission. Education in the form of facts, data and, ultimately, understanding, are the frontlines of defense, with the Center deploying the sharing of resources, special media discussions, professional education and other public forums, and even one-on-one conversations about personal mental health challenges in this vital, community-wide campaign.

The Center also created an educational resource library to make clinician-recommended literature accessible to all its patients, families and visitors. Resource libraries are also available on the Center’s website, offering disorder-specific information for the convenience of anyone seeking information about mental illness.

Lindner Center of HOPE, in a strident effort to keep mental health at the community conversation forefront, also offers “Grand Rounds” – presentations designed for area health professionals – and numerous educational programs for businesses, schools and other community groups.

The Fath-Lindner Hope Challenge


That’s how the Faths and Lindners describe the impact individual financial gifts to Lindner Center of HOPE will have on quelling the growing numbers of deaths by suicide and opioid use among adolescents, easing the economic and emotional hardships for people who face lifetime management of diseases like schizophrenia, and extinguishing the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. These gifts, they emphasize – while helping to cement the Center’s reputation as a national center of excellence for patient care and research – will also help Lindner Center of HOPE become a model for other communities establishing needed mental health systems.

Their goal of raising $50 million in addition to their initial and most generous combined financial commitment of $75 million, is based on their vision to funding the following integral mental health areas:


•    Innovative proof-of-concept studies designed to collect data for submission to external agencies for competitive funding.

•    Mechanisms for attracting support from external sources of funding, including local, regional and national foundations for research in neuroscience related to mental illness.

Education and Awareness

•    Deliver educational programs to the community.

•    Provide support to families, health care providers and community partners in their mental health journey.

•    Build community relationships with influential community partners.

Patient Care and Assistance

•    Financial assistance for people who may not have adequate resources or insurance coverage to seek care at the Center.

•    Programs to address unmet needs, such as internet addiction and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Members of the Lindner Center of HOPE Campaign Task Force are S. Craig Lindner, Paul E. Keck, M.D., Ron Beshear, William P. Butler, Susie Castellini, Sharon W. Frisbie, Scott Robertson and Pamela D. Sibcy.

Lindner Center of HOPE is located at 4075 Old Western Row Road, Mason, OH 45040.  For more information, call 513.536.4673 or visit lindnercenterofhope.org