For the 18th year, NAMI Four County will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week with a program and walk on Sunday evening, Oct. 1 starting at 6 p.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St., Defiance.
The purpose of the program and the week is to promote public understanding that mental illnesses are medical illnesses. Just like heart disease, they have a cause and treatments that effectively manage the symptoms 70 to 90 percent of the time.
Lou Levy, secretary of the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, explained that mental illnesses are both quite common, affecting 20 percent of all adults, and one of the most under-treated types of medical illnesses with only about 40 percent of those affected ever seeking treatment.
“Through our candlelight program and NAMI’s on-going free community and family mental health education programs, we try to raise awareness of and understanding about mental illness so individuals and families are encouraged to seek help,” Levy said.
“We celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week because there is hope – even though mental health problems can seem hopeless at times and be isolating for the individual and family. With treatment and the support that NAMI offers, recovery isn’t only possible, it’s likely.
“With treatment, individuals and families can live, laugh and love again,” he said.
Prelude music for the candlelight vigil will be provided by Ed Clinker. It begins about 5:50 p.m. at St. John’s United Church of Christ with the program starting at 6 p.m.
Four speakers will share their stories of hope. They include Sharon Weaver, a NAMI member who teaches Family to Family, NAMI’s free family mental health education class; Dustin McKee, NAMI Ohio’s policy director; Matthew Rizzo, president and CEO of A Renewed Mind Behavioral Health; and Reverend Joe Payne, senior pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Defiance.
A Defiance area dulcimer group, the Second Street Strings, will perform during the program. Members of the group include John Bariage, Neal Deniston, Clarence Dinnen, Joan Dinnen, Lenore Doctor, Marion Hanson, Mary Ann Hurst, Nancy Ruhe and Pam Schulte.
Following the hour-long program, a candlelight walk will be held with refreshments and fellowship afterward at the church.
The program will be taped and broadcast throughout October on TV-26. Planned air times are 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The program can also be viewed online at www.TV-26.net.
For more information about NAMI Four County, its monthly meetings, free family and community mental health education programs, family and consumer support groups, and local behavioral healthcare providers, please visit www.namifourcounty.org. And, for more information about mental illnesses, their symptoms and treatments, please visit the national NAMI website at www.nami.org.