Only one quarter of adults with mental health symptoms feel like the public is caring and understanding of people with mental illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cumberland County will once again shine a light on the stigma of mental illness and show that recovery is possible by declaring May as Mental Health Awareness month.
“This is a very important part of what county government does in the human services areas is providing for various mental health needs, including for intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities,” Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said during Thursday’s County Commissioners meeting.
“Our role in this, through this proclamation, is to make sure there is community awareness of, not only the incidents of mental health issues, what the pervasive impact is on our community, but more importantly the fact that our friends, our neighbors, our family members who are dealing mental health issues are part of our community.”
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Cumberland County has celebrated Mental Health Awareness month since 1949, according to a press release about the proclamation.
The awareness campaign kicks off at 10 a.m. Friday with the annual mental health walk. The walk begins at LeTort Park and ends at the Old Cumberland County Courthouse. This year’s theme is “celebrate your victories” and the walk will be followed by a rally at the courthouse and lunch at LeTort Park.
“We are going to be very visible with our mental health walk,” Eichelberger said.
The idea of recovery is heavily intertwined in this year’s awareness campaign.
On May 18, the Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program will meet with its Dauphin County counterpart for the annual recovery conference which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Harrisburg/Hershey Holiday Inn, 4751 Lindle Road, Harrisburg.
“Recovery is very possible those individuals,” Robin Tolan, Cumberland and Perry Counties Mental Health Quality Assurance Coordinator, said. “Mental illness and the stigma that goes along with that is no longer the curse that it used to be … recovery is indeed possible.”
Rounding out the month’s events will be a screening of the movie “Canvas” at 6 p.m. on May 23 in Highland United Presbyterian Church, 11 Church Road, Newport.
The screening is hosted the Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program.
“Canvas” tells the story of the effects of mental health issues on an average American family dealing with family member with Schizophrenia.
“Hopefully we can create greater awareness and get us past the situation so that hesitation to seek that assistance, the supports that are needed, doesn’t become an obstacle for our community members,” Eichelberger said.
Anyone interested in participating in any of the events can contact the Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program at 254-6060 for more information.