“Cultural stigma and misinformation are barriers to mental health care that exist in our community,” Valerie King, Ph.D, an East Hampton-based Psychologist and chair of the Hamptons League’s Health Committee, noted.
To dispel some of the inaccuracies and break down that cultural stigma, The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons (LWV), in collaboration with the East End Mental Health Awareness Initiative (EEMHAI), is presenting Mental Health Matters – which is co-sponsored by LWV, the Town of Southampton and Town of East Hampton.
“Psychological pain from addiction and mental illness is not clearly understood by the general public, resulting in perceptions of individual moral failing and shame rather than understood as an illness of the brain,” Dr. King explained. “The issue of public safety arises most frequently when an individual with an undiagnosed mental illness becomes a danger to themselves or others and/or an individual with a diagnosis of serious behavioral/mental illness chooses to disregard or is unable to access appropriate treatment and becomes a danger to themselves or others.”
The event, which will focus on the state of our mental health system and how we can improve it, will take place on Monday, November 19. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a screening of the PBS program, Minds On The Edge: Facing Mental Illness, followed by a panel discussion with local experts that will explore how mental health is dealt with on a state, county and local level, as well as promising innovations and how they can impact the future.
Panelists will include Paul Garson, M.D., Director of Mental Health Services, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and a psychiatrist with Meeting House Lane Medical Practice in Southampton; Martha A. Carlin, Psy.D., Director, Long Island Field Office of the New York State Office of Mental Health; and Jenine Yannucciello, LCSW, Director of Adult Services, Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services, Suffolk County Department of Health. Dr. King will moderate.
There will also be a peer specialist who will be available to speak with attendees, and a quiet space where guests can take a break, if needed. Refreshments and informational brochures will also be provided.
Mental Health Matters was made possible thanks to assistance from Virginia Bennett, Southampton Town Community Services Director; Diane Patrizio, East Hampton Town Director of Human Services; and Ellen Tollefsen, family representative and chair of the East End Mental Health Awareness Initiative (EEMHAI).
“There are health policies and standards in place to address monitoring the treatment of individuals with serious mental illness, along with the important role of the family and significant others towards treatment,” Dr. King added.
Mental Health Matters will be held at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Parrish Memorial Hall and there is no fee to attend.
Parrish Memorial Hall is located at 235 Herrick Road. For more information, visit www.lwvhamptons.org.