Mental illness advocate, speaker to visit Springfield on March 20

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., March 13, 2017 — Drury University and NAMI Southwest Missouri are partnering to bring speaker Joan Becker to Springfield next week. Becker will share her family’s gut-wrenching story about finding help for their son, Mark, whose struggle with paranoid schizophrenia led to a loss of life that made national headlines.

Becker will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, March 20 at the Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library, 2214 Brentwood Boulevard.

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Becker speaks regularly to colleges, churches, NAMI groups, and mental health providers. In 2015, she published a book about her family’s experience with mental illness titled “Sentenced to Life: Mental Illness, Tragedy and Transformation.” The mother of five was thrust into the national spotlight when Mark took the life of a beloved local football coach. The coach, Ed Thomas, was known across the country. The story was covered by ESPN and other national media. A 10-minute documentary about incident aired as part of the 2010 ESPY Awards.

Though she will cover a range of topics related to mental illness awareness, Becker will emphasize how challenging the process of attempting to secure care can be for both the individual and their family.

Becker will be available for one-on-one media interviews Monday just prior to the speaking event. Contact Ed Derr, Director of Counseling, Disability Services and Testing, to make interview arrangements: (417) 873-7457 or ederr@drury.edu.

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