On Sunday, May 23rd the first in a series of community discussions about mental health was launched in Williamsport, Pa. The forum was conducted both in-person and on-line to allow as many participants to attend as possible. The discussion was led by Liz Terwilliger, Libertarian candidate for Congress (12th District). The Break Room, a business focused on safe and fun ways to release stress and negative emotions hosted the event.
“The difficult times we all experienced this past year has highlighted the need for more attention to the mental health of our community,” said Liz. “These forums are needed to allow members of our community to identify what we need so that we can work together with area organizations and our representatives to find solutions that fit our unique needs.”
The discussion at the forum was far-reaching; conversation ranged from barriers to accessing care, qualifications and requirements placed on providers, and the stigma of mental illness and of seeking help. Also discussed were the preconceived ideas about individuals with mental illness and specific diagnoses and the recent increase in teen suicide.
As discussion around the stigma of mental illness and of seeking help gelled, Liz summarized the sentiment of the discussion, “I am not weak because I need help. I am strong because I sought the help I need.” This sentiment, changing the way we think and talk about mental health and wellness permeated the discussion.
Special attention was given by the group to our unique challenges living in a rural are. “A consensus from participants was the challenge in some of our district due to distance of mental health providers who are taking new patients, who covered by insurance or just finding any at all.”
Some participants identified cultural barriers they had personally experienced, such as hesitance to seek help due to fear of losing one’s guns or fear of what others in their family or community might think or say about them.
In each area the group discussed concerns and needs in depth and developed an action plan which will be acted on in coming weeks. The next Forum was scheduled for June 16th from 11am-1pm at the Lewisburg Farmers Market. For updates and more information, visit the Events and the Issues pages at lizterwilligerforcongress.org.