Bradenton mental health recovery center helps adults

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — There’s a new mental health recovery center in Bradenton that opened up at the beginning of the year. It’s non-clinical and treats patients in a different way to help them recover. 

 

What You Need To Know

  • There’s a new mental health recovery center in Bradenton that opened up at the beginning of the year. It’s non-clinical and treats patients in a different way to help them recover
  • The Academy at Bradenton focuses on a non-clinical approach with interactive workforce activities. The goal is to help people get back on their feet and into the workforce
  • Its free for everyone who meet the requirements to be a member, according to Academy at Bradenton officials

The program director, Jodi-Lee Weiss at The Academy at Bradenton, says there was a dire need for a mental health recovery program in the county.

“So they’ve kind of been pulled out of their routine of life. And they just need kind of a soft place to land to get back to where they were,” she said.

When Thaddeus Haddad starts to cook, muscle memory takes over.

”My grandfather, my uncle, they’re all artists of some sort. They’re artistic. This is my art right here. I just love to cook,” he said.

It’s a passion that’s helped him in more ways than he imagined.

“I just need to get out of my head sometimes, and that’s the purpose,” he said.

Haddad has struggled with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression for 25 years, all stemming from one traumatic month.

“I had four deaths in the month of November of ‘99 — close relatives and a close friend — and then about five months later, I chose to go into a hospital to be safe,” he said.

He’s been in and out of jobs since then. Over the years, all the help he’s received has been clinical — like hospital stays or therapy sessions. Haddad had never experienced a recovery center like this.

“I just needed something to focus on. I came in here, started prepping, and it was a whole different ball game,” he said.

The Academy at Bradenton focuses on a non-clinical approach with interactive workforce activities like the multimedia room. The goal is to help people get back on their feet and into the workforce.

Haddad has been coming here since March to seek help after experiencing a second mental crisis. Trying to serve as caretaker for his parents and losing his job became too much for him to handle.

“My parents were much better, but me, not so well. I couldn’t break through that darkness, and I would literally be laying on my bed staring at my ceiling fan for hours. Just stuck,” he said.

He says coming to the academy has given him consistency in life and an end goal.

“My goal is to get back into the workforce, so it gets me back into the mindset of coming to a place at 9 a.m. every morning. I’m looking forward to doing something productive,” he said.

Getting a job is what he’s been working towards to get back the career he once had.

“I think I’ll end up going back into grant writing, development, fundraising. Maybe, you know, maybe at the institutional level, the higher ed-level where I was,” Haddad said.

The academy has what’s called a “Transitional Employment Program” that helps members get hired by local companies.

“It’s night and day now,” Haddad said. “I’m motivated to actually search out and refine where I want to focus my efforts.”

Now, he says he has the confidence to apply for jobs without feeling anxious.

“There’s reality that you need income and so forth, but I want to make a living and make a difference,” he said.

Haddad has already made a difference in his future and believes he can achieve anything he sets his mind to.

This program is free for all Manatee County residents. The county also provides funds of $150,000 to the program each year.

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