Event to ‘start discussion’ on stigma of mental illness
Special to The Union
Embracing the Elephant in the Room
What: Mental wellness panel discussions and resource fair
When: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Gold Miners Inn-Holiday Inn Express
Who: Sponsored by NAMI Nevada County (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Sierra Family Medical Center, in cooperation with Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency. 34 local organizations participating.
Nevada City resident Debra Desmond’s struggle with manic-depressive illness led her down harrowing paths when symptoms surfaced as a teen.
“When I finally did get help, it saved my life,” said Desmond, who went on to become a registered nurse.
The hope that others would understand mental illness has prompted Desmond and others with NAMI Nevada County (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Sierra Family Medical Clinic to gather inspirational speakers, community leaders and resources.
“Embracing the Elephant in the Room” is a free mental health conference from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, at the Gold Miners Inn-Holiday Inn Express in downtown Grass Valley. It will be a “one-stop resource” for anyone affected by mental illness, organizer Sharon Rose said.
The goal: Reduce stigma and discrimination toward conditions that are rooted in physiology. Those conditions can be treated through medication, therapy, personal support and having a sense of purpose, said Lael Walz, with Sierra Family Medical Clinic.
Personal stories of Nevada County residents affected by mental illness will give a familiar face to numbing statistics: An estimated one in six adults and one in 10 children in the United States lives with illnesses rooted in brain disorders, including depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress, according to http://www.BringChange2Mind.org, an educational campaign by actress Glenn Close.
“In our county, that would be close to 16,000 people,” added Walz. “The county is only able to treat a small fraction of that, so a wider community response is essential.”
The conference also is the culminating event for a six-part television series Rose produced this summer. “The Elephant in the Room” presents stories of local people whose lives changed when they got help with their mental illness. The episodes recently aired on public access station NCTV; watch them at http://www.NevadaCountyTV.org/pages/node/82.
Conference speakers will address the impact of mental illness in five areas: education, law enforcement and justice, employment, general health, and faith and spirituality. Participants include county Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson, county Behavioral Health Director Michael Heggarty, pediatrician Sarah Woerner, businessman Bill Popola, and representatives from education and local faith groups.
Inspirational videos will be shown from celebrities including actress Close and pop-rock singer Demi Lovato, who recently revealed she has bipolar and eating disorders. District 3 Nevada County Supervisor Terry Lamphier and county Superintendent Holly Hermansen also will speak. The conference is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Grass Valley resident and freelance writer Trina Kleist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 575-6132.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User