Community Conversation Focuses on Mental Health Crisis

March 19, 2010

More than 100 individuals attended “Facing Our Mental Health Crisis: A Community Conversation” on Wednesday, March 17 at Mount Union.

Mental illness is a tremendous challenge for individuals who live with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, for their families, friends and the community. On Wednesday evening, individuals watched a free public screening of MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness, a television a program produced for broadcast on PBS. The program illuminates challenging ethical issues as well as medical practices that can be barriers to treatment. It also explores the growing reliance on the criminal justice system to manage people with mental illness, a consequence of limited community-based treatment options and support. The program also provides a glimpse of many solutions that are currently being implemented across the country.  These innovations, many shaped by the guidance and expertise of people with mental illness, offer promising solutions and hopeful direction to transform the mental health system.

The Division of Social Sciences at Mount Union presented the screening, with a panel discussion to follow to encourage community dialogue about what can be done to improve treatment options and support for people with mental illness and their families. Panelists from all over Ohio reviewed the movie, discussing ways mental illnesses affect families. The panelists included Dr. Frederick Frese from the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, John Aller, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County, Lon Herman, director of the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment Center (BeST Center) of The Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM), Jane James, executive director of the Stark County Affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Dr. James Karpawich, lecturer of forensic psychology at Mount Union and Kathy Moore formerly of the Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office. Panelists also discussed how to solve the mental health crisis in the Stark county area and answered audience members’ questions. 

Mount Union students and community members attended the event in hopes of learning more about mental illnesses. 

“The program really focused on the topics we are discussing in class,” said Laura Griffin, a junior business administration and psychology major. “I found it beneficial to hear from people who are working first hand with others to help individuals and their families with mental illnesses.”

 

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