Events call attention to mental wellness

Two presentations this week will shine some light on mental health and wellness issues and the various support services that are available in the Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County.

The first event, “Keep Calm and Talk About Mental Health,” is a panel discussion inviting area professionals to share their insight and take questions from the public.

It takes place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Carbondale Branch Library, 320 Sopris Ave., in the community room.

Leading the conversation will be Dr. Jonathan Birnkrant, a psychiatrist who practices in both Carbondale and Aspen, and Resa Hayes, who specializes in helping children cope with divorce.

The event is free and is being sponsored by Aspen Strong.

“Our first two community discussions, in Aspen in January and El Jebel in February, were a great success,” Hayes said. “It was so powerful to hear caregivers share their stories of struggles and feelings of isolation, of recovering addicts share the resources that they believe have been life-saving, of community members asking for support from their neighbors and colleagues to lobby and advocate for psychiatric hospital care in our valley.”

Then, from 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Roaring Fork Valley, hosts “In Our Own Voice,” a presentation by two people who have been living with mental illness for longer than 20 years who will share their story of struggle, hope and recovery.

The Wednesday presentation will take place at the Glenwood Springs Library, 815 Cooper Ave., in the community room. It is also free of charge.

“‘In Your Own Voice’ is so powerful because it is a personal account of living with mental illness,” said Anika Neal, president of the local NAMI chapter. “Many people really want to hear personal stories, but they are hard to come by.

“This presentation is a great stigma buster, as people realize that these people are living productive lives and that recovery is possible,” Neal said.

NAMI is made up of people who live with mental illness themselves and are working to remove the stigma.

“Our mission is to provide education, support and resources to all individuals and families affected by mental illness,” Neal said.

For more information about these events, contact Anika Neal at NAMI Roaring Fork Valley at (970) 618-7770, and Resa Hayes with Aspen Strong at (970) 379-2763.

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