Letter: Film shows need for mental illness awareness
United Counseling Service hosted its first UCS Presents event on Wednesday, Nov. 8 with the showing of the documentary "Beyond Silence." Close to 100 community members attended. Beyond Silence celebrates the strength, perseverance and dedication of three individuals determined to break the silence often associated with mental illness and help others along the way. The short documentary film was followed by a discussion facilitated by Dr. Alya Reeve, UCS medical director.
One in 5 adults will be diagnosed with a mental health issue in their lifetime. Therefore most people are affected by or know someone with a mental illness. The stigma often associated with mental illness may prevent people from seeking help and they often feel isolated and alone. Presenting the film is a step toward helping people understand mental illness, supporting those in our community who have a mental illness and reducing stigma.
The need for promoting the discussion of mental health was apparent during the showing of the film. Courageous members in the audience shared their stories, their own struggles, and what has helped them in their recovery. It became evident during the discussion that the responsibility to help destigmatize mental illness lies with all of us.
To those of you who felt alone in your struggle when you entered the theater to see "Beyond Silence," my sincere hope is that you felt a part of a supportive community by the time you left. To those of you who live and work in the Bennington Community, thank you for engaging, learning and supporting your friends and neighbors during the discussion.
I look forward to continued community engagement in UCS Presents events in the future. Thank you for a wonderful night. Together, we are building a stronger community.
Lorna W. Mattern, Executive Director
United Counseling Service
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