Cranbury Municipal Alliance helps promote mental health resources during World Mental Health Day

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World Mental Health Day raises awareness for mental health across the world in towns, cities, and workplaces.

The Day on Oct. 10 is designed to not only promote awareness of mental health, but provide information and resources to support those in need of mental health services, according to the World Federation for Mental Health

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In downtown Cranbury, the Cranbury Municipal Alliance hosted an informational table outside of Teddy’s Restaurant on Main Street.

“The weather was beautiful and lots of great information about mental health was shared,” said Joann Charwin, chair of the Cranbury Municipal Alliance. “The community was invited to come to chat, have coffee, learn about valuable resources and meet our therapy dogs Molly and Sophia.”

At the Municipal Alliance sponsored event, people were able to socialize with one another and gather information on resources available to them or for those they know are thinking about or in need of mental health services, she said.

“Mental health needs to be taken seriously in all communities, small and large. According to John Hopkins Medicine, one in four U.S. adults experience mental illness each year,” Charwin said. “The pandemic has certainly exacerbated this issue. When a person has a physical condition, there is not a stigma attached as there is for a mental health condition.”

She noted that as a result of the stigma, people don’t reach out as much to get the help that they need.

“Just because the problem is not visible on the outside doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.  Mental Health issues need to be taken seriously,” Charwin said. “In Cranbury, the Municipal Alliance Committee not only focuses on drug prevention. This committee has made mental health awareness a priority as well.”

Charwin was joined by other Municipal Alliance members, Cranbury Chief of Police Michael Owens, Mayor Barbara Rogers and Township Committee members Evelyn Spann and Eman El-Badawi.

Also on hand were Dr. Susanne O’Callaghan and John Walker from the Agnes McCarthy Charitable Foundation, Gaye Korley, president of Middlesex County NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness], Maria Benerofe from Penn Medicine Princeton Health Community Wellness Program and Maureen Rafferty from the Cranbury Board of Health and Mayor’s Wellness Campaign.

“I do feel that more awareness is needed for resources available to those who may be struggling with their mental health. There are many resources available for those in need of mental health services, but not everyone is aware of these services,” Charwin said.

“Anything that a town can do to bring awareness to the importance of mental health care and resources available will definitely bring more assistance to people in need and make a difference.”

World Mental Health Day was created by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992 when the organization established an advocacy and awareness program for mental health.

The theme for World Mental Health Day this year was “Make Mental Health & Well-Being for all a global priority.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2020 report, 53 million people in the United States live with mental illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that from 2019-21 the percentage of adults who had received any mental health treatment increased from 19.2-21.6%.

“There is a new National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number. 988 is available to help those experiencing a mental health crisis,” Charwin said. “This is a 24/7 lifeline that is accessible through call, text or chat and can help anyone in need of support for a suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis.”

She stressed that people may also call the lifeline number if they are concerned about a loved one in crisis.

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