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Mental health town hall meeting to feature film preview

• Sep 13, 2018 at 3:00 PM

The community is invited to a town hall meeting next week to address the impact of mental illness on families and the essential role caregivers play every day.

The forum will take place at the Grand Haven Community Center, 421 Columbus Ave., from 6:30-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17.

This special event is being presented by Extended Grace, in conjunction with Ottawa County Mental Health and the Heartland Independent Film Forum. It will feature an exclusive preview of the film “Coming Up For Air,” which is set to open in theaters next year.

Speakers, including Lynn Doyle of Ottawa County Community Mental Health and “Coming Up For Air” producer Roger Rapoport, will offer a hopeful look at how family members can prepare for surprising challenges with mental health first aid and other readily available resources.

According to Community Mental Health professionals, clients in need of mental health services wait as long as 10 years before asking for help. This event will help raise awareness and eradicate the stigma that can undercut timely care and treatment.

“My hope is that the stigma surrounding mental illness is eliminated,” Rapoport said. “All of us need to talk about mental illness and benefit from the wisdom and experience of experts in our own community. Unfortunately, there’s a fear of being mentally ill, a fear of the unknown journey ahead. This film honors the caregivers among us who step up to the plate to help those in need.”

Scenes from “Coming Up For Air” shown at next week’s event feature West Michigan actors Tom Harryman, Jacqui Bernhardt, Kim Harsch, Judy Johnson and Diane Van Wesep. The movie was shot across West Michigan, including Grand Haven.

In this feature drama, single mother Anna Russell struggles to find out if her son, Stan, is having a tough time learning life lessons in college or if he is in real trouble. The film traces Anna’s desperate journey advocating for her son as his impressive diving career and grades tumble. The family drama takes audiences on a relatable journey highlighting the importance of mental health care, sensible gun safety laws and the challenge of balancing high-stakes athletics with academic excellence.

Community conversation will be moderated by Barbara Lee VanHorssen of Extended Grace.

“We want to provide information to people about resources and how to access those resources,” VanHorssen said. “Also key is normalizing this conversation so that we all get more comfortable talking about mental health and mental illness.”

VanHorssen noted that the community will be asked to share the gaps they experience in our mental health services so that the Mental Illness Task Force can attempt to address those needs.

Snacks will be provided by Wild Blue.

Prior to the screening, free suicide prevention training (QPR) will be provided. This training takes one hour. To register for QPR, call 616-334-8894.

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