The Crusader Newspaper Group

How much do we know about mental health issues

By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader

Everyone knows a little about mental health issues, but knowing the facts about mental illness can help you educate others and reject stigmatizing stereotypes. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Understanding mental health isn’t only about being able to identify symptoms and having a name for these conditions, but dispelling many false ideas about mental health conditions as well.

One in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition and each of them have their own story, path and journey that says more about them than their diagnosis.

Whether you live with mental illness or are a friend, family member, caregiver or medical professional getting to know a person and treating them with kindness and empathy means far more than just knowing what they are going through.

Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living/Edgewater Behavioral Health Services is in its 42nd year as a non-profit Community Mental Health Center serving the needs of Northwest Indiana’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Edgewater is headed by Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D. who has served as President and CEO for over 20 years.

Edgewater provides an extensive array of programs that include programming related to addictions, family and group counseling, day treatment programs for both adults and youth, psychiatric and psychological services, adult residential services, services to nursing homes, case management and crisis intervention.

During the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, Edgewater joins the mental health community to reaffirm the commitment to building the understanding of mental illness, increasing access to treatment and ensuring those who are struggling to know they are not alone.

Janelle St. John, M.S. Public Services Administration at Edgewater echoed the sentiments of the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), that mental health care systems have been in crisis for far too long and often keep treatment and recovery out of the hands of many who need it. She said we can take action now as we push for better legislation and policies to improve lives for everyone.

“By lending your support you can show that this cause important to you and desperately needed for millions of Americans. This raises awareness about the mental health needs of all Americans and as important. Let’s use the week of May 3-9 to raise awareness of the needs of America’s youngest citizens,” she said.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is a week to focus on children and youth living with mental illness and to come together to advocate for a full array of effective services and supports for children affected by mental illness.

Edgewater provides an extensive array of programs to serve the behavioral health needs of the region. These include programming related to addictions; both adult and   child/adolescent outpatient services including individual, family and group counseling; day treatment programs for both adults and youth; psychiatric and psychological services including assessments and testing; adult residential services; services to nursing homes, case management, and crisis intervention.

In addition to its primary service center, Edgewater also manages and provides therapies for residents of several group homes for the most seriously mentally ill.

During the month of May, the National Mental Health Awareness, the Ambassadors for Edgewater, will host their 8th Annual Mental Health Awareness Luncheon on Wednesday, May 18 at Avalon Manor in Merrillville from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Stand Up-Speak Up-Stop the Stigma!”

The featured speaker will be David Granirer, a counselor, stand-up comic, author and founder of “Stand Up for Mental Health” (SMH), a program that teaches stand-up comedy to people with mental health issues.

Granirer, who himself has depression, is featured in The Voice, an award winning documentary entitled “Cracking Up.” He also received a Life Unlimited Award from Depression Bipolar Support Alliance, a Welcome Back Award from the National Council of Behavioral Health and a Champion of Mental Health Award. He has worked with mental health organizations in Canada, the U.S., and Australia to train and perform with SMH groups in dozens of cities.

Reservations for the luncheon are $50 per person and $300 for a table of eight. Persons interested in attending can call Janelle St. John (219) 885-4264 x2604.


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