State News

Feb. 1 is Mental Health Advocacy day

Every year, advocates join together to raise their voice in support of Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Statehouse. This year is no exception, everyone is meeting virtually on Monday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to call on Vermont leaders and legislators to support “Our Mental Health in the Time of Covid.”

The Covid pandemic will be the focus of this year’s Mental Health Advocacy Day because of its devastating impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many Vermonters.

Julie Tessler of Vermont Care Partners noted, “The Covid pandemic is harming the ability of people to stay in recovery from substance use and increasing feelings of depression and anxiety of many Vermonters, including the people we serve with developmental disabilities who like many of us are coping with isolation and loss of meaningful activities such as employment and time with family and friends. The trauma caused by the pandemic will have lasting impact on children, adults, and families for years to come making it critical to make long-term investments in our community mental health system.”

“Our daily lives, routines, physical health, and mental health has been affected by Covid-19 – putting even more pressure on the mental health system of care,” said Laurie Emerson, NAMI Vermont’s executive director. “People are experiencing much more stress and anxiety that could lead to depression. Isolation and loneliness are affecting many more individuals as we quarantine and practice physical distancing … You Are Not Alone. Mental Health Advocacy Day will give us the opportunity to share our experiences and stories to influence legislators about the importance of mental health care. We will get through this together.”

In Vermont approximately 125,000 people are affected by mental illness – that’s 1 in 5 individuals.  Nearly 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder.  Most people living with mental illness lead fulfilling, productive lives, but only with access to treatment and community care.  Mental health affects all of us — 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

The day will include a welcome address from state leaders.

The keynote speaker, Chackupurackai Mathai, will discuss embracing our lived experience and harnessing it to inform and empower our advocacy.

For more info visit: namivt.org/advocacy/advocacy-day.

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