Time to talk … about mental health: New column to focus on mental wellness issues

Published 9:17 am Thursday, March 24, 2022

By Glenda Smith

For the Enterprise

The Feb. 24 edition of the Davie County Enterprise Record included an article about a recently published brochure, “Piedmont Triad Mental Wellness Peer Support Groups.”

At that time a proposal was made to the managing editor, Mike Barnhardt, that the Enterprise periodically publish articles relative to mental health. He immediately gave his approval. Therefore, Julie Whittaker, a friend and fellow mental health advocate, and I will contribute articles monthly.

Julie is well-known in Davie and Forsyth counties for her long-time advocacy and knowledge of mental health. I am a retired educator (30 years in Davie and Forsyth counties) and lifelong resident of Davie County. Having lived mental health experience, I am able to relate to others who have or are facing challenges on that level.

Julie has been a big influence and inspiration regarding my growth in mental health awareness, knowledge, advocacy, and action. We are grateful for this opportunity to share our insights with such a caring, compassionate community as Davie County.

The first consideration in getting this column started was the title. “Time to Talk” was chosen because it conveys what the column is meant to be. My approach to mental health discussions will be as a layperson with life experience who has a quest for knowledge, understanding, and sharing. However, research and input from peers, professionals, family, and friends will be interwoven in those discussions.

Hopefully, readers will join in on the mental health conversations.  Readers’ replies will be welcome.  Ending the stigma means ending the silence. Caring can lead to sharing.

Indeed, it is time to talk.

Perhaps this has never been truer than now.

The second consideration for this first column was the topic. For me, that became clear as I read the Feb. 24 newspaper. When I read the last paragraph, my heart sank. Far from thinking, “There is no such thing as recovery”, the opposite is the case. I consider myself, along with the majority of my peers, to be in recovery.  So, I need to take this opportunity to briefly address the miscommunication.

Being in recovery is not the same as being cured.  Many individuals with mental health /brain disorder issues are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. Recovery requires understanding oneself, managing behaviors, willpower, and determination. My personal view of recovery is the ability to function independently and with self-control, with no thought of harm to oneself or others.  For me, positive thinking, positive relationships, and having hope contribute to reaching and maintaining recovery. Since much of this first column commentary has been introductory in nature, recovery will continue to be further addressed in the future.

The uniqueness of this project has necessitated in-person delivery of the brochures. So far, distribution has included: Davie Medical Associates, Hillsdale Medical Associates, Family Care Center (Iredell Medical), Daymark Recovery Services, Davie County Public Library and Cooleemee Branch, DHHS, sheriff’s department, several churches, and the YMCA.  Numerous locations in Yadkin and Forsyth counties have also received copies of the brochure.  Hundreds remain available if you or your organization could use print copies.

The brochure, Piedmont Triad Mental Wellness Peer Support Groups, can be found by entering its title on Facebook.  The spacing in the title is necessary. Copies may be printed from there.

Three support groups in the brochure, not included in the Feb. 24 article, are: National Alliance on Mental Illness-  NAMI NW Piedmont Connection Recovery Peer Support Group (Winston-Salem and other NC locations), First Presbyterian Church (downtown Winston-Salem), and Grace-filled Resilience (Lewisville). Descriptions of nine plus organizations are included on Facebook.

Lastly, updates can be found at the Mental Health Association website at triadmentalhealth.org and Partners’ website at partnersbhm.org.

Until the next time … all the best.