Community Conversation Takes on the Stigma of Mental Illness

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Patrice Winsor was one of five panelists kicking off community dialogue in Colorado Springs last night. Patrice, who lives with bipolar disorder and ADD, said her healing began while talking about her struggle with fellow teens.  Up until then, she didn’t realize that others battled similar issues.  The point?  We CC panelneed to talk about mental illness in spite of the stigma that surrounds it.  And that’s what happened in Packard Hall at Colorado College as 230 people came together to talk about the state of mental health in the region and how to fill the gaps in care.  I was thrilled to be among them and participating in a conversation that means so much to me as a mother who struggled over the years to find help for my son.

Discussion centered on the lack of education and awareness of mental illness in the community, the toll mental illness takes on families, the effects on business, the costs to society, and more. After the panel discussion, small group dialogues began.  No one was reticent to share their experiences and passions about the issues.

This was the first of three forums scheduled over the next months.  The goal?  To prioritize and develop community-based solutions and localized health action plans by June, 2014 and to implement them with a statewide fundraiser.

As I left the session, I was reminded that “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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