The 15th annual Candlelight Vigil for Mental Health will be held Sunday evening, October 5 starting at 6 p.m. at St. John United Church of Christ, 950 Webster St., Defiance.
Sponsored by NAMI Four County, the event serves as the kick-off to Mental Health Awareness Week, October 5 through 11.
“Since one in four adults have symptoms of a diagnosable mental illness, brain disorders are among the most common, but least treated health problems in America today,” said Ron Hofacker, candlelight vigil coordinator. “And, 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.”
Based on the most recent county health assessments in Defiance, Fulton, Henry and Williams counties, about one in ten adults report symptoms typical of depression. Among youth, the number is one in five.
However, only about one-third of those with symptoms ever seek medical treatment that in most cases would help them get better. Depending on the illness, treatment success rates for mental health problems range from 70 to 90 percent.
Hofacker explained that the purpose of the candlelight vigil is to help the community understand that mental illnesses are 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.
“Our goal is to encourage people to think of brain health the same way they do heart health and recognize that when symptoms occur they need to seek medical help. The problems won’t go away on their own,” Hofacker said.
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 with Medicaid or high insurance deductibles and on a limited income, help is available through the ADAMhs Board system.”
For information about where to get help, simply call 2-1-1.
Speakers for this year’s candlelight vigil program include Janet Hitchcock, who has family members with mental illness; Melinda Siebert, who participates in a NAMI-sponsored support group; Pastor Erich Christman from St. John’s Christian Church in Archbold; and Dr. Warren Morris with Health Partners of Western Ohio. Music will be provided by Ed Clinker and Rosie Laker.
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 and throughout October. Last year’s candlelight program will be re-broadcast on TV-26 at 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29; Wednesday, October 1; and Saturday, October 4.
This year’s event will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays starting October 8 and continuing through October 25.
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. For more information about the local chapter, call Katie Beck, the president, at 567-239-5477.