Mental Health Awareness Event Helps to Educate and Engage the Community

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Provided by Prince William County

​For the last decade, the Prince William County Community Services department has been hosting its Mental Health Awareness Event to bring the mental health community and the general public together to help educate and dispel some of the myths surrounding mental illness.

This year’s 10th-annual event will be held on Oct. 8 at 3 p.m. and is aimed at fostering discussion, said Lucy Stephany, a therapist with the Community Services Board. “A lot of times when people think of someone with mental illness, they automatically go to what is presented to them in the media, which is always the worst-case scenario.”

Stephany said when people come to the event and meet people living with mental illness, they learn something. “What’s amazing is how people from the community come in and they’re able to say, ‘I share things in common with these people. They’re not to be feared.’ We want to try to bring the community at large together with the mental health community to engage and inspire.”

Those who attend this year’s event – Celebrate! Living with Purpose! – at the Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge, will have the chance to listen to a discussion with panelists that include mental health consumers, mental health providers, a family member of a person who lives with mental illness and a representative from the National Alliance of Mental Illness. “Folks will talk a little bit about their illness, which will educate our audience on what does mental illness look like. It’s not what they think it looks like,” Stephany said.

The discussion will center on how living with a purpose helps, Stephany said. “We’re going to have a panel discussion of people who are living with mental illness and talking about how having a life’s purpose has been beneficial to them. We are able to make the connection that people that live with purpose have a stronger mental health recovery.”

Resource material for people who are looking to access or learn more about mental health services will also be available at the event. A free barbecue dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. No reservations are required. “It’s also a time for fellowship and socializing,” Stephany said.

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