Free Mental Health Forum Takes Place March 31

Holy Family Hospital, Methuen campus.

Emergency Room Visits Higher in Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence

Holy Family Hospital is having a community forum, “Understanding Mental Wellness: Making Connections…Staying Healthy,” from 5:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 31, in the ground-floor auditorium at the hospital, 70 East St., Methuen.

The event is part of an educational outreach to residents on mental health issues, according to a release. A panel of experts will discuss mental health and its challenges.

“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,” a spokesperson said. “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.

The forum is part of a series of free mental health community forums 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.

Speakers include: Peter Amari, psychological nurse practitioner, retired police officer and EMT; Cristen Sweet, clinical supervisor, Lahey Behavioral Health Emergency Services Program, Haverhill and private practice; Barbara Worsley, coordinator of Family Driven Practice, 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 the MHTF’s Behavioral Health Working Group.

The event is free and no pre-registration is required.  A light dinner will be served and two $50 gift certificates will be raffled as door prizes.

For more information, contact Karen Kennedy at Holy Family Hospital at (978) 687-0151; or Elecia Miller or Vilma Lora at City of Lawrence MHTF, (978) 620-3527 and (978) 620-3526, respectively.

The forum is made possible by financial support of Holy Family Hospital and Lawrence General Hospital and in collaboration with members of the MHTF Behavioral Health Working Group.