Stronger Together

Stronger Together

In May, NAMI of Erie County’s Executive Director, Denise Kolivoski, MBA, and NAMI consumer contributor, Libbie Johnson, joined over 400 advocates from around Pennsylvania at an annual conference. Here’s Libbie’s thoughts from attending:

“But what can I do? I’m only one person. Can I really make that much of a difference?” How often are we overwhelmed by the frustrations, uncertainties, and complexities of mental illness?

As a peer, family member, and friend, there are moments of hopelessness, despair, and misunderstanding. When the fight seems to be bigger than we are, when we want to give up, when the price for survival is staggering.

Those are the moments we need to unite and stay the course, because we are truly “Stronger Together”.

Fittingly, this was the theme of 2019’s 3rd annual Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference. It was held May 20-21 at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel in Grantville and sponsored by NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association, and Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.

This symposium connected peers, family members, mental health workers, educators, medical personnel, specialists, and other professionals to discuss a wide range of topics in a supportive, accurate, and stigma-free environment. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in workshops, engage in panel discussions, network, and interact with a wide variety of vendors.

One of the big highlights of the conference was Keynote Speaker, Representative Mike Schlossberg, from Lehigh County. We listened intently as he described his experiences of living with anxiety and depression. Representative Schlossberg boldy disclosed his mental health diagnoses in an op-ed piece after reading a stigmatizing comment following actor Robin Williams’ death.

In addition to discussing current legislature, Representative Schlossberg urged audience members to contact their governing politicians because, yes! Just one person, can make a difference!

So, in the spirit of Representative Schlossberg, I’m asking you to mail those letters, make those phone calls, send those emails. Yes, one person can make a difference. But working collaboratively? We are unstoppable because we are indeed STRONGER TOGETHER!