May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A huge part of being aware, and hopefully moving on to acceptance, is removing the stigma associated with mental health, and getting help for mental health challenges. Mercer Council and Prevention Coalition of Mercer County is proud to have been a part of several events calling to shatter the stigma of mental health.
On Saturday, May 15th, I attended a wonderful event geared at stopping the stigma of mental illness and treatment. Vessels of Praise & Yielded Vessels Fellowship partnered with STIGMA Free Mercer for the Healing our Community - Building Resilience event. This effort was spearheaded by our PCMC member Nadira Keaton, who is a leader in the church, and uses her connections with the community to spread healing and hope. Speakers included many in recovery, who are now living different lives. We also heard from a woman who uses yoga to bring her help and healing from depression and a closer connection to God. Additional speakers included leaders in the mental health and spiritual communities. This uplifting event also included many vendors from health professionals around the county. We were happy to see the Mayor of Trenton present, the Honorable Reed Gusciora as he stopped by our table! Events like these help to bring mental health services to communities that may not be able to access them and help to shatter the stigma that mental health challenges are something to hide or be ashamed of. The speakers at the event emphasized that getting help can change lives and that it can fit into any culture and belief. We were so proud to be a part of it!
On Saturday, May 23rd, I attended and spoke at a Shatter the Stigma event in Robbinsville associated with the NAMI of Mercer County Awareness walk and the Robbinsville Hamilton Rotary Club. I was honored to be among some powerful voices who advocate for mental health services, addiction and recovery agencies, and local leaders. We were honored to hear from Nami, the Rotary Club leaders, the Mercer County Prosecutor, Angelo Onofri, Michele Madiou from the County's Shatter the Stigma campaign, and Recovery Advocates, and more. The Robbinsville CARES program, an initiative that prioritizes treatment and recovery over punitive methods, was instrumental in facilitating this program as well.
We appreciate all of the efforts to support mental health and addiction care and treatment, and the effort to remove barriers and access to treatment by shattering the stigmas associated with it. As this month comes to a close, please remember that our words matter, that people who struggle are our friends, sisters, daughters, fathers, mothers, and more. Even after May ends, we should all continue to shatter the stigma of mental health and addiction issues.