Expo brings awareness to mental health resources
By LaMonique Hamilton
Rocky Mount Telegram
Copy Editor Sunday, May 17, 2015
TARBORO – The Vidant Edgecombe Hospital hosted the Mental Health Expo on Thursday in an effort to bring public awareness to the resources available to the residents of the Twin Counties for mental health and substance abuse issues.
The event, a partnership between Vidant Edgecombe Hospital Behavioral Health, Eastpointe and the Edgecombe County Human Relations Commission, brought together organizations and people who may need professional support for themselves or a loved one.
“One in four Americans suffer from a mental health issue currently, and over 50 percent of us will develop signs and symptoms of a mental health diagnosis in our lifetime,” said Timothy Livengood, interim outreach coordinator of Vidant Edgecombe Hospital’s Behavioral Health program. “We could expect the same numbers in Edgecombe County. So the prevalence is there. People need help. They need to know how to reach out to people and how to deal with symptoms of their stress, deal with symptoms of their sadness.”
About 60 residents, caretakers and agency representatives attended the expo. Livengood and Kimberly Hickerson, community relations specialist for Eastpointe, both said that the response exceeded expectations and hope that the information about the resources offered would be distributed throughout the community.
“We just want to make sure people know what resources are available because we know that some of our services are not being utilized, like mobile crisis or the walk-in clinic,” Hickerson said.
Mona Townes, the mobile crisis director at Integrated Family Services, was on hand to provide community education on the services her team provides for residents, including mobile crisis management. “Mobile crisis is a service that’s provided to the community where we can actually respond to an individual in their home or in the community. It is a service where the goal is to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations of individuals in crisis situations that need some extra support,” Townes said.
In addition to immediate crisis management, mobile crisis also provides community training to providers and agencies on suicide awareness and intervention as well as managing challenging behaviors, Townes said.
Hickerson said that Eastpointe also offers free training in the form of Mental Health First Aid, which she describes as being akin to traditional CPR, but for mental health.
“It’s a training to help the average person learn about mental health diagnoses and learn how to help support someone who’s in crisis and get them to appropriate mental health care. We offer those trainings on an ongoing basis both for adults and for youth,” Hickerson said.
The next training for youth Mental Health First Aid will be held May 28 – 29 at 500 Nash Medical Arts Mall in Rocky Mount.
Hickerson said that she is encouraged by the positive response to the expo because “that’s not not a topic that many people take interest in until they are impacted by it. So, to have people come out and learn more before they actually need mental health services is really a good thing for the community.”
At some point, all of us will experience sadness and stress, Livengood said.
“It’s perfectly OK if I’m feeling a certain way to talk to someone about that,” he said. “And we need to make sure that people understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to do so. And to reach out does not show weakness. It shows committal to my well-being and my health.”