Milwaukee Area Technical College will host “Mental Health Awareness Day” Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus to raise awareness and decrease stigma surrounding mental illness. In collaboration with a host of community organizations, health systems, and faith-based organizations, MATC will hold a resource fair, a mental health workshop and the 2017-2018 premiere of the performance “Pieces: In My Own Voice.” All events are free and open to the public.
Mental health resource tables will be staffed from 9:15-11:45 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Center, 700 W. State St.
A workshop titled “Recovery and Adverse Childhood Experiences,” featuring Michael Joranger, a staff development coordinator for SaintA specializing in trauma-informed care philosophy, will be held at noon in Cooley Auditorium on the second floor of the Main Building, 1015 N. Sixth St.
“Pieces: In My Own Voice,” a performance that emphasizes the stigma and struggles of living with a mental illness through spoken word, monologues, music
and dance, will be held in the evening. Registration and networking will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and the performance will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. in Cooley Auditorium.
“Mental illness affects everyone – regardless of race, gender, religion. Everyone knows someone living with a mental illness,” said Rev. Walter Lanier, director of multicultural services and community engagement at MATC, and Milwaukee County Mental Health Board member. “Our community is working together to decrease stigma and to raise awareness of resources and access to mental health care. We are convening this day as a way to encourage people living with mental illness and their families to connect with resources that can help, and to build awareness of how our community can support individuals with mental illness.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness. Rates of suicide attempts and deaths by prescription drug overdose are on the rise nationwide. The acts in “Pieces” highlight the prevalence of these disorders, from depression, suicidal thoughts, schizophrenia, alcohol and other drug abuse, and much more, as well as highlighting the impact on people’s lives. Throughout the performance, the audience feels the sense of hope as the actors take control of their disorders and their lives through treatment and recovery.
The show will be followed by a question-and-answer session. The audience can ask questions of the actors and licensed mental health providers. Sign language is incorporated into the play.
“We know that people can and do recover from mental illness,” said Brenda Wesley, creator, producer, and director of “Pieces: In My Own Voice.” Wesley is director of education and outreach for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Milwaukee, a Milwaukee County Mental Health Board member, and mother of a child with mental illness. “When we connect individuals to trauma-informed and culturally intelligent care, we are able to better prevent mental health crises before they happen and connect individuals with treatment to start their recovery journeys.”
“We must be willing to have open and honest conversations about mental illness so that people understand that seeking help is equivalent to seeking help for other illnesses that affect our bodies,” said Berthena Brister, president, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (R), Upsilon Mu Omega Chapter. “The workshops, presentations, resources and performance serve as catalysts to get those conversations started, and we are thrilled to partner with like-minded organizations to bring this to the community.”
This production is made possible by: Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Men of Color initiative; Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Upsilon Mu Omega Chapter; Rogers Memorial Hospital; MIRACLE; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Milwaukee; Cade Law, LLC; Hurtado Zimmerman S.C.; and The Milwaukee Chapter (WI) of The Links, Inc.; Cream City (WI) Chapter of The Links, Inc.; Milwaukee Public Library; Milwaukee Health Services, Inc.; Housing Ministries of the American
Baptist Churches of Wisconsin; Milwaukee Inner Cities Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH); and Pastors United.
To reserve seats for “Pieces: In My Own Voice,” or to view a full schedule of the day’s events, visit https://mentalhealthawarenessmke.eventbrite.com.