BY SHERI TRUSTY
Mental health is a universal issue, and Ottawa County has taken great strides to combat the stigma connected to it. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and on Friday, May 12, more than 40 county agencies will come together for Ottawa County Community Day.
They will share information and resources, celebrate stories of mental health recovery and offer fun activities tied to the Eight Dimensions of Wellness.
The free event is from noon to 6 p.m. at Joyful Connections, 8200 W. State Route 163, Oak Harbor. OCTA public transportation will extend its schedule that day to accommodate attendees. Call 419-898-7433 to schedule a ride.
Ottawa County Community Day began as a collaboration between the Ottawa County Prevention Coalition and the Ottawa County Council of Health and Social Concerns to open a conversation on mental health. They were soon joined by dozens of agencies, creating one of the biggest health events in county history.
A collaboration of the event is co-coordinated by Ottawa County Family and Children First Council Executive Director Stephanie Cavanaugh and Ottawa County Health Department Health Educator Michelle Veliz.
“We’ve never done something on this scale,” Veliz said. To handle the expected crowd the Ottawa County Commissioners let them use the Joyful Connections building.
Ottawa County Community Day will feature informational booths from dozens of county agencies representing the Eight Dimensions of Wellness: Emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Attendees can learn about and apply for a variety of services within the county.
Speakers will share powerful stories of mental health recovery.
“This event is for birth all the way to seniors,” Cavanaugh said. “The best thing is that we will be celebrating mental health, not just sitting around a table talking about it.”
One of the goals of the event is to show the community the strong connections between county agencies. Mental health advocates from several organizations and businesses – including schools, hospitals, banks, fitness gyms and sobriety services – are committed to working together to provide a foundation for mental health recovery.
“Mental illness happens in every single community and impacts every single person in some way,” said Ottawa County Mental Health Court Program Coordinator Jaimee Prieur. “We want the residents of Ottawa County to understand there is support, understanding and compassion for those battling mental illness.”