Helena hosts inaugural mental health fair

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Visitors packed the Helena Sports Complex the morning of Saturday, March 10, for an event aimed at erasing the stigma of mental illness.

The free community event was sponsored by the Helena Police Department, Shelby County Probate Court and NAMI Shelby as this was the first time the organizations hosted an educational community mental health fair.

Allison Boyd, programs coordinator for mental health services and legal counsel for the Shelby County Probate Court, coordinated the event with the Helena Police Department.

“We are trying to provide the community with help to connect them with the right resources,” Boyd said. “This could be for a family member or a friend but all of the featured service providers were local.”

Boyd said one of the reasons for holding the event has been the rise in calls related to mental disorder problems. She said oftentimes, people will resort to calling 911 in a non-emergency situation because they are not aware of the other resources available related to mental disorders.

The mental health fair began with a panel discussion at 10 a.m. to discuss local treatment resources. The panel included representatives from a variety of local mental health treatment providers and resources both for those living with mental illnesses and their friends and families. Several service providers were also on hand to answer questions and offer further information on how to identify symptoms, getting the help you need and how to help others.

Helena Mayor Mark Hall was also in attendance and hopes it will become an annual event.

“Thanks to Allison Boyd for organizing this great event and to the Helena Police Department for hosting,” Hall said. “Special thanks to all the service providers for participating and reaching out to the community to share information on valuable resources that are available to help those in need. Hopefully this will be an annual event.”

The featured service providers at the mental health fair were as follows:

–Chilton Shelby Mental Health

–NAMI Shelby

–M4A

–American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

–Shelby Baptist Medical Center

–Bradford Health Services

–Compact 2020

–Shelby County DHR Adult Protective Services

–University of Montevallo Clinic

–Gateway

–Shelby County Probate Court

–Helena Police Department

Boyd said that in the future she hopes to host more mental health fairs in the surrounding cities in Shelby County.