Over 95 community members from six different organizations came together to discuss the importance of mental health awareness and shared their own personal experiences.
Messages of hope and encouragement were written on parts of the sneakers to remind us of our own journeys and to provide hope and inspiration to others.
The pictures to the left provide a look at some of the painting sessions that were held to create "Voice." Everyone really came together to help relay the important message "Mental Health Does MATTER!"
"Voice" was unveiled on May 20, 2015 at the annual Skills Candlelight Vigil.
By Seveta Gallu
Mel Forkner Lesher
Anxiety: An unpleasant state of uneasiness, or concern about an uncertain event.
I was barely four when the dreams began.
Images of free falling into darkness,
Being swept away from everything into nothing.
One cry for help, and my parents were there.
"Just breate," said my mother.
My father held me in his arms.
"You're here with us and you are safe, Just breathe."
Years pass, and now I am seven.
I fear that the sun will die,
And everything else with it.
When clouds gathered, I never expected only rain.
Every dark sky meant a hurricane,
Flooding my mind with hopelessness.
Frozen with fear,
I'd call my parents.
"Just breathe," said my father.
My mom stroked my hair.
"You're here with us and you are safe. Just breathe."
I am older now.
I no longer fear hurricanes and tidal waves.
In fact I love the rain.
But as I've matured,
Anxiety's roots have deepened.
And now, self consciousness and self doubt,
Are the storms that ravage my mind.
I'm twelve now.
I am. I am. I am.
I am good.
I am smart.
I am pretty.
I am something.
I found out right away what a great meeting place CRCSP is to meet people who share a common interest. CSP is all about people coming togehter to support people with mental illness. It is a monthly meeting that proves that people can and do recover from mental illness! This is possible, in part, when people who are willing to utilize the services and supports that are in place and can be developed per each unique need. The role of the community is allowing and encouraging people who could benefit from participation in services and supports and feel comfortable in doing so. By joining and participating in efforts to reduce the barriers that people with mental illness face in their path to wellness/"recover," more people will be able to feel positive about getting the help they need.
CRCSP offers support to these endeavors. It is an opportunity to feel good about the mental health community and feel good about the wonderful people you meet there. Kathy was one of the wonderful people who I was fortunate to meet at CRCSP. She and I hit it off immediately. She made me feel proud about why I was there. She was someone to look up to; she was well. Kathy and I spent years working together on behalf of CRCSP. we each had a role in running the monthly meetings, so we spent time, not only participating in them each month, but also preparing for them in between. We built a friendship. We shared our passion for reducing the stigma of mental illness. We got an award together, one which I will cherish forever. To this day, Kathy inspires me to keep doing what I love to do. I will always keep her in my heart, mind and soul.
Kathy has several children, all girls. She spoke of them highly as our friendship blossomed. While I did not know the girls, only met them once, I am aware that they were behind Kathy's motivation and efforts to be well. I wish I could speak with them now.
Kathy met her husband to be at CRCSP meetings. It was obvious that their passion and work toward wellness and having a voice in the community brought them together, at least in part.
I know that Kathy created a Psychiatric Advanced Directive for herself and that I was part of her plan. I was honored to be! Kathy had a ton of natural supports in place and was strongly aware of her own mental health needs and desires. She put together a solid plan.
On a late September day, many years ago, I opened my email at work as I do first thing every morning to find an email from the CRCSP group. This email was like no other in my 25 years of work in the mental health field, however. It was Kathy's obituary. I still cry when I place myself back there. I called her husband right away, of course, and proceeded to hear one of the saddest stories of my life. I was being told that this strong, loving, happy, proud, caring, respected woman took her own life. Not only to hear that she had attempted, but failed and was hospitalized just weeks prior for the same attempt of which she ultimately completed.
I drove to her viewing that same day. It all happened so fast. I didn't have time to prepare myself to meet her daughters, that one time. I wish I would have told them much more about my perspective of their beautiful mother. I wish i would have shared my sorrow with them more. I hope they know how much their mother really did love them. I was really only an acquaintance in Kathy's life and even I knew that quite well.
I will never understand why Kathy did what she did and especially how she did what she did. I will never understand how Kathy left her daughters behind; one that was carrying Kathy's first grandchild. Kathy took that with her. I wish I would have been there for her. All I can do is hope that she knew I was there for her. All she needed to do was get in contact.
I know that I am not alone in the fact that Kathy's spirit lives on. She touched so many lives in her personal and professional lives. I live with that thought that Kathy's life deserves to always be shared. Despite her personal physical ending, Kathy's spirit lives on. She continues to be my inspiration. That is what I want to be able to give to others from sharing this story -- INSPIRATION!! Please always remember that there are services and supports to help anyone that chooses to take advantage of them. Use them and all of your whole self to find your path to wellness!
Created by organizations throughout Centre County in collaboration with Jenn Chessie, Brandi Eslick, Nancy Vicere and Marisa Vicere
Born: May 20, 2015
If you, a family member, or friend have experience with mental health issues, you are in a unique position to help stomp out the prejudice and discrimination that surrounds mental and emotional health and provide hope to others.
Over 95 community members participated in building this Stomper, named “Voice” to reflect how a community can come together to support one another, create a voice and make a difference. Those 95 people met as groups, discussed the importance of mental health awareness and shared their own personal experiences. “Voice” will now travel throughout Pennsylvania to help spark similar conversations, inform communities, break down barriers, and help stomp out the stigma that surrounds mental health services and support.
“Voice” has a simple name and a simple message: Mental Health MATTERS. “Voice” represents the power we all have to go out into our communities, share information and personal stories, promote awareness and inspiration, and help each other find peace and hope.
- “Voice” was created by organizations throughout Centre County, PA including: Opportunity Centre Clubhouse, Community Service Group Site-Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program, Strawberry Fields Parent Support Group, Skills Central Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program in Philipsburg, Centre County Correctional Facility and Centre County Mental Health, Intellectual Disabilities, Early Intervention and Drug & Alcohol Office. “Voice” was made possible through the generous support of the Mental Health Matters Grant through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Marisa Vicere Brown
A Big Thank You:
The Mental Health Matters Stomper was made possible through the generous support of the Mental Health Matters Grant through the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and our partners.
Special Thanks To:
Centre County Mental Health
Skills of Central PA
Opportunity Centre Clubhouse
Centre County Correctional Facility
Community Service Group Site-Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program
Strawberry Fields Parent Support Group
Skills Central Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program in Philipsburg
Community Care Behavioral Health