Mental Health Awareness Month: You Are Not Alone

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 info@positivedirections.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.

LifeLines offers a different activity every day this month.

Westport Together also compiled a list of resources for Westporters dealing with isolation, stress, depression, substance use or other issues. It includes:

All Ages

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.

Youth

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.

Resources are available for anyone who feels isolated.

Older adults

Senior Center: Programs and support; 203-341-5099.

Westport Weston Health District: Homebound visits, safety checks; 203-227-9571.

Behavioral Health

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)

6 responses to “Mental Health Awareness Month: You Are Not Alone

  1. Janette Kinnally

    I had tears of joy seeing this today. There are so many people suffering and on top of it the pandemic really allowed people to share mental
    Health Crisis going on in this country right now. And I am so glad it being talked about more then ever. And that there are all these resources and groups coming together to address this crisis. Mental health awareness month and sharing of all the free options, not just paid ones for people in our community. Thank you 🙏❤️

  2. Pegeen Gaherin

    Thank you Dan. You are a beacon of healing light.
    X
    Pegeen Gaherin

  3. Pegeen Gaherin

    Thank you Dan. You are a beacon of healing – light.

  4. A Westport couple who wish to remain anonymous write:

    We have a child who lives with mental illness. This means our family lives with mental illness.

    Please do not feel bad for us. Do not get me wrong, there have been times over the past 5 years when we have felt at the bottom of a well with no way out. Darkness can seem to take away any hope or chance at light and joy. This journey has changed us, has made us compassionate, resourceful beings. We have learned to find joy in every little part of the day. We have decided to step away from the comparison culture that seems to seep into every part of our daily round.

    Mental illness awareness is many things. It is getting the word out that there is hope and many avenues for assistance. It is connecting humans who struggle with groups, professionals, organizations and creating community. These are all important and needed. We have found patience to be the one thing we have always lacked and the one thing that is paramount to healing and health. We are learning to let life unfold, abandon plans, and see where the road may lead. We are hopeful that this will create calm and stability for our loved one, and really for our entire family. We all know the antidotes, “when one door closes another opens” we are learning to be patient in allowing that door to open rather than knocking it down. One day at a time.

  5. Luisa Francoeur

    Another resource is the website: https://turningpointct.org.

    TurningPointCT.org was developed by young people in Connecticut who are in recovery from mental health and substance use issues.

    • Thanks, Luisa. I had already listed Turning Point near the end, under the “Behavioral Health” heading. It does great work, for sure.

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