To the editor,
How fortunate we are to live in this town! On Thursday, November 10th, the organization, We the People Warwick held a “You Are Not Alone,” mental health forum. This event was made up of a wide variety of speakers including mental health professionals, a psychologist for WVCSD, our police chief, parents, a veteran and even a high school student. Applauds were many, and even one standing ovation. After the presentations there was plenty of mingling and networking. It was wonderful to see the many smiles, handshakes and the exchanging of phone numbers and business cards. I could feel the neighborly love.
I learned a lot at the forum about the issues and problems people in our town are facing, such as the growing number of people needing mental health services and the lack of therapists to meet that need. It was hopeful to learn of some solutions for these problems. For example, I learned anyone, anywhere can make a difference in the life of someone with a mental health or substance use challenge. Mental Health First Aid Training provides the skills and knowledge to help others in crisis and is available online or in person through organizations such as the Youth Bureau or NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness).
Members of the NAMI were also at the forum and provided materials about the many programs and workshops they offer free to the public. It was a wakeup call to learn that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year; 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness; 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder, and that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among children aged 10-14. It is my hope that we as a community can begin to address these statistics, work to end the stigma and bring hope to those that feel alone.