May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
For centuries, “mental illness” was a taboo subject — ignored, covered up or lied about.
Only recently has it come out of the shadows. We now talk about “mental health,” more than “mental illness.” It’s as vital to our lives as physical health.
Of course, there’s still a long way to go.
Westport Together — a partnership between the town’s Department of Human Services, Positive Directions, and the Westport Public Schools and PTAs — has put together a comprehensive calendar of events.
Every day this month, a virtual event focuses on some aspect of mental health. Highlights include:
- “Adolescent Mental Health in 2021: Challenges and Caregiver Strategies” (May 12, 6:30 p.m.) Dr. Aaron Weiner discusses how to tell what’s normal, what’s a ore significant mental health concern, and how parents can support their kids. Click here to register.
- Mental health for elementary school youngsters (May 13, 7 p.m.) For children and their trusted adults, “Gizmo’s Pawsome Guide” is a story-time read-along that introduces the topic in an accessible way, and offers tips and guidelines for coping. Click here to register.
- “If They Had Known” (May 10, 7 p.m.), a documentary about the dangers of combining prescription drugs and alcohol. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link.
- LifeLines — Melissa Bernstein’s new project — offers free daily workshops. Ranging from “Breaking Up With Your Inner Critic” to “Tracing Your Triggers,” they help people feel seen, heard and appreciated. Click here for more information.
Other events range from suicide prevention and raising children during the pandemic to shattering the myth of mental illness and “laughing yoga.” Click here for the full monthly calendar.
Westport Together also compiled a list of resources for Westporters dealing with isolation, stress, depression, substance use or other issues. It includes:
Westport Department of Human Services: Information and help with mental health referrals, food and financial assistance; 203-341-1050.
WestportTogether.org: Subscribe to email lisit for youth and family resources.
Westport Youth Services Bureau: Casework, referrals, mentoring; 203-341-1150.
Teen Talk: Free counseling provided by Kids in Crisis at school or through hotline; 203-341-1285 (school-based counselor) or 203-661-1911 (hotline).
Liberation Programs: Free drug and alcohol counseling at Staples High School; 203-399-3520.
Toquet Hall: Student-run activities center; 203-341-1155.
Senior Center: Programs and support; 203-341-5099.
Westport Weston Health District: Homebound visits, safety checks; 203-227-9571.
Positive Directions: Mental health and substance use counseling, prevention, support groups; 203-227-7644.
TurningPointCT.org: Online options and peer support by and for teens and young adults; based in Westport at Positive Directions.
NAMI: Support groups and training programs by and for families with a loved one with mental illness.
The Hub: Regional options for treatment and support.
(Hat tip: Elaine Daignault)