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Continued: New program strives to keep mentally ill teens out of institutional pipeline

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 3, 2014 - 9:01 AM

“The combination of having the similar life experience, but then being a little farther ahead developmentally, really provides a nice way to support youth,” she said.

Controlling the voices

At 57, Garcia is more than “a little” ahead of the teens he will be helping. Through People Inc., he has already been providing peer support to homeless adults — particularly those who hear voices. With kids, he expects he will need to listen more and pick his spots to talk.

“At some point, when they’re talking, I will bring it up that, ‘Hey, I experienced that,’ ” he said. “I don’t want to just hit them with the trauma that I went through.”

After completing treatment for drug abuse, Garcia eventually stopped taking prescription antipsychotics — against doctors’ orders — because he believed they were worsening certain symptoms. He won’t recommend that for others.

Without medications, Garcia says, his voices grew stronger and louder. But over four years, he discovered that their threats weren’t coming true. He still hears the voices, but has learned over time how to control them and ignore what they are telling him.

“My voices were always trying to kill me,” he said. “After four years, nothing happened to me. So I figured, you know what, this is not real. The scary part was trying to be able to not feel that fear, because it just did not go away.”


Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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  • Albert Garcia still hears voices and knows what it’s like to grapple with a crippling psychosis. But he believes he will be able to better relate to the mentally troubled teens he will be counseling.

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