May, You Have My Attention

A blog post by Artist Residency Coordinator, Yvonne Stephens. 

A senior in high school, I distinctly remember asking to leave class, escaping to the restroom, where I sat down, laid my head on the roll of toilet paper, and hung there thinking, "May is mental health month. This is May. Am I depressed? Do I need help? Is this normal? It sure feels normal for me..."

May being named Mental Health Month was an inlet for me, a way for me to start thinking about my relationship with my mental health, how mental wellness or illness impacts our lives, the lives of those we love, the overall health of a person, a community.

Mental illness is common. It affects 1 in 5. I'm a big fan of the movement to talk about it. So let's talk about it. No need to suffer shame. We are all on this spectrum together, of mental health.

Here are some other movements I am a big fan of:

NAMI The National Alliance on Mental illness. They are a tremendous resource... you can start by signing their stigma free pledge.

Mental Health First Aid. Find a training course near you:

Collaboration. Crosshatch is collaborating with North Country Community Mental Health on a series of three events entitled, “May is Mental Health Month: An Evening of Understanding.” The events take place in Bellaire on May 13, Petoskey on May 17, and Cheboygan on May 25.

This dynamic two-hour program will feature poetry and prose readings, and a documentary screening. Local poets and writers Terry Wooten, Gerry Sell, and Ellen Whitehead, and other local poets (myself included) will be reading. These poems and prose aim to capture the life story of individuals who have spent time in or lived their whole lives in institutions. There will also be a screening of the 30-minute documentary, Through Our Eyes, - Living with Asperger's, produced by and with youth with Asperger's. Come and join us for an evening of understanding.

Find out more about the events here

Over the past 18 years, my mental health journey has led me to a deeper understanding of the way my brain works and what I need to do to take care of it so I stay stable. Self care is a priority for me now. And so is advocacy. I love my brain, my mind, and I intend to use it to increase understanding about mental health and illness. I hope to see you there.