WNY Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Guest:  Maura Kelley

Topic:  WNY Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Duration:  5:36

Published:  April 29, 2021

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Maura Kelley, Director of Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC) and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Maura.

Guest:  Thank you, Ernie. It's great to be here.

Host:  And we're pleased to have you. You're here because you're going to be discussing Western New York Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 which kicks off very soon. But first, the obvious question is why is there a need for a Mental Health Awareness Week?

Guest:  For centuries, mental health was hidden, was tortured, was degraded, cast aside in society, left to the streets. And now in present day, people make fun of, accuse people of, are afraid of people with mental illness. And that's just not so, and people can't see it, for a lot of reasons or for some reasons, so they don't know it, so they blame them. It's mysterious, and we’ve got to take the mystery out of mental health. And for last several decades in this country, we've had mental health awareness. May 6 we're having mental health awareness in Western New York, and that's to make people aware that mental illness affects everyone, whether it's personally or a family member. And there's support available. And the big theme is to wear Irish green, or another bright green color to indicate that you're a supporter or you're someone with a mental health issue yourself, and you don't have to hide behind that mental health label. You can celebrate it and celebrate that you have gifts that no one else has, that you can make the mental illness, a positive and not a negative. And then, with mental health awareness, you know who your allies are; other people wearing green support you. So, it's sort of like a coming out party, and, you know, and it's a festive event, it’s not a sorrowful event. And it happens all through the month of May. And the first day is May 6 And we're going to have virtual Zumba because of the pandemic. We're going to have a panel of speakers. We're going to have Lisa Maria Cruz tell her story about schizophrenia. This is all going to be online. We're going to have Oryx Cohen from an international mental health advocate, myself, and Rafiq Salim as a panel guest to speak at the downtown public library. And there will also be events at the Merriweather Library. All distancing safe, all, you know, masks, things like that. There's going to be recovery story by Kenneth Simmons, at the Buffalo Library, which is at 1 Lafayette Square. You can go online. There’s a Zoom Meeting ID is 852 5020 1311, and the password is Awareness, and that's mainly what we want to do.

Host:  Maura, our time is just about up, I'm sure people have more questions, how can they reach you?

Guest:  They can reach me, I'm the Director of MHPC and you can reach me at my office, which is 716-836-0822 extension 162.

Host:  Thanks so much for being with us today.

Guest:  You're welcome.

Host:  You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Maura Kelley, Director of MHPC, and your host was yours truly Ernie Churchwell.