Holy Family, Methuen, Presents Mental Health Forum

Holy Family Hospital, Methuen.

A panel of experts will discuss mental health and its challenges at a forum called “Understanding Mental Wellness: Making Connections…Staying Healthy,” Thursday, March 31, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at Holy Family Hospital’s Auditorium, ground floor, 70 East St., Methuen.

This is the first English-speaking program in a series of free mental health community forums being planned by the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force (MHTF). Nearly 300 people have attended three Spanish forums in Lawrence and Haverhill in the last 15 months.

Forum speakers include: Peter Amari, psychological nurse practitioner; Cristen Sweet, clinical supervisor, Lahey Behavioral Health Emergency Services Program, Haverhill; Barbara Worsley, coordinator of Family Driven Practice, state Department of Mental Health; and Lucy Ingram, certified peer specialist, Northeast Recovery Learning Community. The moderator will be Holly Hammershoy, clinical director, Therapeutic Mentoring Program Supervisor, Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, and co-chair of MHTF’s Behavioral Health Working Group.

According to the latest data issued in 2014 from the National Institute of Mental Health, there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States— representing 18.1 percent of all U.S. adults— with any type of mental illness within that year.

Community health needs assessments conducted in the last three years by Holy Family Hospital and Lawrence General Hospital revealed that rates of emergency room visits where mental health was the primary or associated cause were higher in Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen, than that of the state. Additionally, as part of Holy Family Hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment, conducted in 2015, participants of seven English and Spanish focus groups identified Mental Health as a major problem for which they were seeking more information, assistance with coping skills, and treatment.

Topics that will be presented include defining mental health and its relationship to overall medical, spiritual and physical wellness; accessing assistance and treatment; dealing with a loved one with a mental health issue from a caretaker’s perspective; and successfully coping with a mental health issue from a first-person perspective. Information on area resources also will be available.

This event is free of charge and no pre-registration is required. Residents from the Greater Lawrence area are invited. A light dinner will be served and two $50 gift certificates will be raffled as door prizes.

For more information, please call Karen Kennedy at Holy Family Hospital at (978) 687-0151, or Elecia Miller or Vilma Lora at the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force, at (978) 620-3527 and (978) 620-3526, respectively.