May is Mental Health Awareness Month, as designated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that advocates and supports Americans with mental illness. To mark the observance, the Respect Institute will host the Fifth Annual “Respect for Mental Health Awareness” program, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 7 at the Kauffman Foundation, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City.
The program is free and open to everyone. Swope Health, along with other metro area healthcare providers, will be on hand to share information about resources for mental health.
The keynote speaker will be Rachel O’Brien, a board-certified music therapist with Truman Medical Centers.
In addition, a number of speakers from the Respect Institute will share their personal stories about mental illness and recovery. The program also features a panel discussion between a crisis intervention officer of the Kansas City Police Department, a therapist, a minister and a teacher. The program encourages people to talk about mental health and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
The Respect Institute, launched in 2010 through the Missouri Department of Mental Health, teaches individuals who have mental illnesses to share their personal stories of recovery with public audiences. The hope is to foster a better public understanding of mental illness and related issues.
The institute trains about 10 to 15 individuals a year, and facilitates presentations to public groups including those at high schools, churches, probation offices, shelters and civic organizations. Over the years, the institute has trained 60 people and about 35 currently are available to speak.
Kansas City’s chapter of the Respect Institute is the largest in the state, largely due to the activity of the three local leaders – Trena Fowler of the Center for Behavioral Medicine; Kellie Sullivan of Truman Medical Centers; and Ruthe Workcuff of Swope Health.
“I like to remind people we are all on a mental health continuum, and we don’t know what traumatic experience might knock us off balance at any moment,” Ruthe said. “I always tell people about the Ten Commandments of good mental health.”
Participants from the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Comprehensive Mental Health Services, ReDiscover, Tri-County Mental Health Services Inc., and Truman Medical Centers will also participate at the Respect celebration.
- Think positively. It’s easier!
- Cherish the ones you love.
- Continue learning as long as you live.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Exercise daily. It enhances your well-being.
- Do not complicate your life unnecessarily.
- Try to understand and encourage those around you.
- Do not give up. Success in life is a marathon.
- Discover and nurture your talents.
- Set goals for yourself and pursue your dreams.