GREAT FALLS — Great Falls College-MSU’s “Stop The Stigma” week kicked off Tuesday. For the last three years, the college has invited students, health professionals, and community members in for sessions to learn about myths and facts surrounding mental health and addictive disorders.
“Truly it is about raising awareness and educating our community about mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Dr. Elfie Neber of the GFCMSU Psychology Department.
“There’s so many misconceptions and misunderstandings. There’s a huge stigma with seeking help. Montana is pretty consistently number one in suicide and we just think that if we keep raising awareness and get people starting to talk about these issues, hopefully they will realize there are resources in the community and that help is available. We don’t have to suffer in silence,” Neber said.
The first event was ‘Community Café’ and was facilitated by Alliance For Youth program manager Nicole Zimmerman, who said, “It’s just an open, trusting dialog about important subjects.”
The roundtable forum focused on the prevalence of substance abuse in the community and how it is affecting families.
“We’re really wanting to look at what our community would look like if there weren’t such high rates of substance abuse and what our roles in making that happen are,” Zimmerman said.
There were three rounds of discussion that Zimmerman says she hopes people talk about strength and opportunities for change.
“We have a very high prevalence of substance abuse and it effects our kids,” Zimmerman said. “CPS is trying to help those families and get them the support they need but as a greater community we all need to participate. The kids belong to all of us. If we want them to be prosperous and be working in the community and be healthy when they are adults and supporting us as we get older, we need to help them now.”
The events are free and open to the public all week.
For a list of events, click here to visit their Facebook page.