BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and the Maumee City Schools district is hosting a free community presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, of Greater Toledo on Wednesday, September 13.
The presentation, titled Ending the Silence, enlists personal testimonials from individuals on mental health, along with statistics and other information to spread awareness and prompt an open dialogue about mental health conditions among youths.
“Ending the Silence is a short movie followed by a presentation by a live speaker. The movie is 22 minutes long and features different stories of individuals across the country,” said NAMI family navigator Sarah Gross.
In addition to Gross, who will be representing NAMI and providing attendees with more information on NAMI and its available resources, Maumee High School student Hala Jabri will speak about mental health and the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding it.
According to Gross, Jabri and her mother worked closely with the schools and NAMI to bring the event to parents and guardians of teens and young adults who may need support or more information about mental health conditions.
“Hala has been a really outspoken mental health advocate and you’ll be able to hear from her at the event,” Gross said.
Following the presentation, several other organizations and mental health agencies will be available to offer additional information to families.
Representatives from Harbor, Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition, Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, Mercy Health Trauma Recovery Center, ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Pediatric Psychiatry Department, The University of Toledo Medical Center, Willow Center and Buckeye Health Plan will join NAMI of Greater Toledo at Maumee High School for the event.
“There’s going to be some great resources there,” Gross said. “We don’t just want to tell you the signs and symptoms to look out for and send you on your way, we want to help you find resources, too.”
That’s a large part of what NAMI does: Connect families to the necessary resources while navigating the mental health journey.
“NAMI provides support, education and advocacy for people with mental illness and their families,” Gross said.
NAMI offers several programs, which include classes and workshops for people of all ages and in different stages of their journey.
Additionally, NAMI holds several outreach events in which staff members go to schools and other organizations, like Maumee High School, to spread awareness.
“Family navigation is a big part of what we do to,” Gross said. “We help people navigate the mental health system and find resources. In order to do this, we are funded by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and private donors.”
By providing this support, education and advocacy, NAMI can hopefully help prevent suicide and show others they are not alone, Gross added.
Gross hopes the movie and speeches will open up the dialogue between parents and guardians and their children.
“We want to show people that you need to treat mental health just like you would treat physical health,” Gross said. “Knowing the signs to look out for is a good thing to have in your health toolkit, too.”
After noting those signs, it will be important to outline next steps and how parents and guardians can talk to their kids.
Additionally, it’s important to remind teens that they should not handle everything alone and how to seek out help from parents or other trusted adults.
“No one walks the mental health journey alone,” Gross said. “We want people to know we’re here for them.”
Adults and students are encouraged to attend the event to understand more about mental health and the stigma surrounding it, while connecting with resources that may help them or someone they care about.
The presentation will be held at the Maumee High School Performing Arts Center at 1147 Saco St. on Wednesday, September 13. The doors open at 6:00 p.m. with pizza and refreshments. The presentation is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. There will be time after for attendees to meet with mental health agencies’ representatives and participate in giveaways.