City and state partners, including state Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler and Regina Young, held a virtual mental health fair Tuesday, Feb. 23, to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to connect constituents with mental health support and resources. City Councilmembers Kendra Brooks and Katherine Gilmore Richardson also participated in the event.
“Many people are struggling with job loss, housing and food insecurity, virtual schooling and the physical toll of COVID-19,” Fiedler said. “We are now nearly one year into the pandemic, and it has taken other tolls on our families as well: trauma, stress, anxiety, intense fear and loss. There is a lot of stigma around asking for mental health help, but it’s critical for us to break down those barriers, to get through this pandemic and beyond.”
Andrea October from the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services encouraged viewers to “validate, center and allow space,” especially for teenagers and children who may be coping with the stress of the pandemic in a different way than adults in the home.
Chantay Love, from EMIR Healing Center, which provides education and advocacy, talked about the additional struggles many families face due to ongoing gun violence. “Grandparents are raising grandkids during a pandemic,” she said, and many are now facing the challenge of virtual schooling and increased technology use.
Other presenters at the virtual event included Cathi Tillman of La Puerta Abierta (The Open Door), Monica Posada of Puentes De Salud, Adrienne Pennell, M.Ed., BCBA (Merakey Services) and Tracy Halliday (Delaware County Office of Behavioral Health).
Fiedler said that the motivation to collaborate with other elected officials occurred naturally, as the result of shared concerns about mental health challenges facing their constituents.
Young, in offering her thoughts during the event, said, “Information is power. However, we can improve your mental status and support you and provide the resources … that together we will thrive and overcome in such difficult times.”
Fiedler thanked the presenters and staff who organized the virtual mental health event and encouraged people who are struggling to reach out for help. “You are valuable and your life is worth it,” she said.