Over 500 professionals, clients and others interested in mental health attended a “Make the Connection” event on Friday, May 6, to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month in Greater Kansas City.
Held at Cerner’s Vision Center in North Kansas City, the event’s master of ceremonies was Tri-County Mental Health Center CEO Tom Petrizzo, who told the audience that reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and increasing effective treatment is critical.
“Effective treatment is available,” Petrizzo said. “We want people to know they can get help and that it will make a difference.”
The morning keynote speaker, Dr. Nancy Spangler, stressed that mental wellness is an often overlooked component of the workplace, while the afternoon keynote focused on home and community with Julia Westhoff. Spangler is a recognized expert in workplace health strategies, and Westhoff is the executive director of the Secondary Trauma Resource Center.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition, the Metropolitan Council of Community Mental Health Centers and the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care presented the event. Breakout sessions included “Promoting Mental Wellness in the Workplace,” the “Benefits of Supported Employment” and “In Their Own Words: Managing Mental Illness.”
Other highlights of the event featured an interactive wellness room offering exercise, yoga and holistic strategies to enhance mental wellness. Those attending the event included professionals from more than two dozen metropolitan organizations, health care providers and consumers from throughout the region.
For more information on the program and participants, visit www.maketheconnectionkc.org.