Sponsored by NAMI Four County, the event serves as the kick-off to Mental Health Awareness Week, October 6 through 12.
Terry Russell, executive director of NAMI Ohio, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event. A mental health professional for more than 40 years, he became the executive director of NAMI Ohio in 1998 after serving 22 years as the president/CEO of the Eastern Miami Valley ADAMHS Board in Clark, Greene and Madison counties in Ohio.
Russell, who has a brother with schizophrenia, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, Ohio’s largest foundation working to enhance the care of those suffering from mental illness.
In addition to Russell, other speakers include Trisha Vassar, also a family member of persons with a mental illness, and Mark Krieger, president of the local NAMI chapter.
After the program, a short, candlelight walk across the Defiance College campus is planned with refreshments and fellowship afterward in the church fellowship hall.
Persons who are unable to attend Sunday’s event can watch it on TV-26 later in the week at 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays starting October 9 and continuing through October 26. Last year’s candlelight program will be re-broadcast on TV-26 at 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays starting the week of September 23.
“Mental illnesses are among the most common, but least treated health problems in America today,” said Ron Hofacker, candlelight vigil coordinator. “While some illnesses are more likely to occur because of lifestyle choices, depression and other mood disorders as well as schizophrenia are not the result of any choice the person made.”
Hofacker explained that the purpose of the candlelight vigil is to help the community understand that mental illnesses affect about 1 in 4 Americans, making it more common than cancer and heart disease.
“Further, mental illnesses are medical illnesses affecting the brain much like cardiovascular diseases affect the heart,” he said. “Both have a cause and a treatment.”
With mental illnesses, the treatment is effective about 70 percent of the time. However, only about 1 in 3 persons with a diagnosable mental illness ever seek medical help.
Mood disorders such as depression are the most common mental illnesses. Symptoms that are typical of depression include:
- Persistent sad or irritable mood,
- Noticeable changes in sleep, appetite and energy,
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or remembering,
- Lack of interest in or pleasure from activities that were once enjoyed,
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and emptiness,
- Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain that do not respond to treatment, and
- Re-occurring thoughts of death or suicide.
If three or more of these symptoms occur, last more than two weeks and interfere with ordinary functioning, it is recommended that the person seek medical help.
“We especially want individuals and families to know that help is available, many times starting with their family doctor,” Hofacker said. “And, for those without insurance or on a limited income, help is available through the ADAMhs Board system.”
For information about where to get help, simply call 2-1-1.
NAMI Four County is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest organization of family members and friends of persons recovering from a mental illness. The local chapter meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the ADAMhs Board office, T-761 State Route 66 south of Archbold. All meetings are open to the public. (However, there will be no meeting in October.)