Regional Mental Health Board 2018 Annual Dinner

A Report by PeachTree Therapeutics

I was delighted to attend the Annual Dinner of the North Central Regional Mental Health Board on June 26, 2018 in East Hartford, Connecticut. The event was a wonderful gathering of mental health professionals, volunteers, leaders in the community and clergy. The NCRMHB is a non-profit organization which is merging with ERASE (East of the River Action for Substance Abuse Elimination). Together these two boards are becoming an advisory service for the State of Connecticut in terms of mental health and addiction issues. The combined group is now called the North Central Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization. The Annual Dinner was a great celebration of all the accomplishments of these boards and their tireless members.

Marcia DuFore Executive Director of NCRMHB highlighted the main focuses of the board. She stated that the purpose of the organization is to rally for the strengths and justice of the community utilizing connections and networks through mental health agencies and other local institutions. The board will now provide advisory service across the lifespan which will include youth in its efforts, not just adults. Prevention will also be added to the objectives of the board. The organization will remain an imperative source of information for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in Connecticut.

Ms. DuFore reported on the results of an evaluative study done by NCRMHB about treatment facilities in Connecticut for addictive disorders. The research conclusion drawn was that recovery from addiction is more than completing a rehabilitative treatment program or a detox. It is a life long process including developing community supports with people and organizations. It was determined from this study that forming healthy and supportive relationships with others is a key factor for sustained recovery from addiction.

The Reverend Robyn Anderson who helps lead the Ministerial Health Fellowship in the Hartford area was the Keynote speaker of the Annual Dinner. She began her talk discussing a story from The Bible. The Samaritan stops to help a person who was robbed and beaten and left alone suffering in the street. Reverend Anderson pointed out that a healthy community contains people who help each other, such as the Good Samaritan. A healthy community is made of members who will stop to check on each other and not walk by a person in distress. The Hartford community has many distresses including violence, diabetes, cancer, racism, suicide and addiction. A positive community works together to address these problems.

She noted that in Hartford alone so far in the year 2018, there were already 78 shootings and 12 homicides. Reverend Anderson recommends that all people of the community come together to respond to issues like violence. Law enforcement, faith leaders, therapists and hospitals need to collaborate together to overcome community problems. She stated that each individual is a resource and everyone has the capacity to be an advocate. Together the community of Greater Hartford can stand up to the legislators of Connecticut to make some changes.

The 2018 Annual Dinner of the NCRMHB was an exciting and important gathering of leaders in the Greater Hartford area. The board's additions to their future agenda including addiction prevention programs and addressing the at risk youth population will help establish improved mental health conditions for the State of Connecticut. To witness the collaboration of therapists, faith leaders and other community members coming together to reinforce positive mental health changes was inspiring.

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