First Mental Health Fair Aims to Reduce Stigmas

With its upcoming fair, a local advocacy group hopes to dispel some of the myths associated with mental illness.

Patricia Laughlin, vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Moore County, says the nonprofit’s inaugural Mental Health Fair will shed light on clinical depression, schizophrenia and other oft-maligned disorders.

“This is a major event,” she said. “Our goal is to stop stigma and to let people in the community know what mental illness is.”

Sponsored by Sandhills Center for Mental Health, the fair will feature representatives from 24 organizations that work with a range of illnesses. There will also be lectures and discussions led by local mental health care professionals.

“We wanted to bring in everyone, not just people from NAMI,” Laughlin said. “A lot of people in the community don’t know what’s available to them, so I’m hoping they’ll walk away with information.”

Joel Monroe, a psychologist who specializes in treating patients with schizophrenia, will be on hand to answer questions about various mental conditions. He is a member of the American Psychological Association and serves as the psychologist-in-residence for the NAMI Moore County Board.

Jennifer Wright and Vicki Rhodes, both members of the Sandhills Geriatric Adult Mental Health Specialty Team, will deliver presentations on mental illness in elderly patients.

Wright, a therapist in charge of training the Geriatric Specialty Team’s staff, will talk about crisis awareness and response. Rhodes, a registered nurse with 25 years of experience in the mental health field, will focus on stress management.

NAMI Moore County is one of 34 affiliates of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in North Carolina. Based in Pinehurst, the nonprofit also supports residents of Richmond and Scotland counties.

“Good mental health is important because mental illness is so prevalent,” Laughlin said. “It affects everyone, but people think that because someone suffers from a mental illness then they’re not intelligent.”

The Mental Health Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Hampton Inn hotel in Aberdeen. Laughlin expects the free event to draw between 200 to 300 attendees.

“I think we’re going to have a great turnout,” she said.

Organizations and agencies that will be represented at the fair include Advanced Behavioral Health, Bridge of the Sandhills, Christ Community Church, Corrections Family Support and Community Collaboration, Daymark Recovery Services of Moore County, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Drug Free Moore County, Fayetteville HyperBarics, FirstHealth Behavioral Services, Linden Lodge Foundation, McDonald’s Chapel, Moore County Department of Veterans Services, Moore County Schools, Moore County Sheriff’s Office, Moore Free Care Clinic, Southern Pines Yoga, Therapeutic Alternative Mobile Crisis and Wilmington Treatment Center.

For information, vist nami-moorecounty.com or call (910) 295-1053.

Contact Jaymie Baxley at (910) 693-2484 or jaymie@thepilot.com.

Mental Illness By the Numbers
The following information was provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

• Approximately 43.8 million adults in the U.S., about 18.5 percent, suffer from mental illness.

• Approximately 10 million adults, or about 4.2 percent, suffer from a serious mental illness that interferes with or limits major life activities.

• About 1.1 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from schizophrenia, while 2.6 percent suffer from bipolar disorder

• About 6.9 percent of adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

• About 18.1 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from a phobia or anxiety condition such as post traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

• Of the approximately 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who have issues with substance abuse, about 50 percent also suffer from a mental illness.

Original article by Jaymie Baxley, Staff Writer, of The Pilot can be found here.

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