Lived Experience Academy Panel for MH Awareness Month

By Kim Westrick

On May 24th, 2016, the BHRS Lived Experience Academy (LEA) hosted a speakers’ panel event entitled, “Individuals with Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions Share their Lived Experience and How it Intersects with their Cultural Background” in collaboration with the Belmont Library.

This was the second annual LEA panel event in recognition of May Mental Health Awareness Month. This year we sought to highlight the intersections of behavioral health and cultural identity as two stigmatized categories which impact one another in infinite, complex ways.

After some time to mingle, grab refreshments, visit resource tables, admire the Photo Voice exhibit, and earn raffle tickets, 47 attendees took their seats in anticipation of what resulted in an inspiring program. Four LEA speakers, Candice Hawley, Laura Martinez, Lori Mills, and Allen Haysbert, took to the stage and shared emotional pieces of their lives with an audience of eager and engaged community members, BHRS staff, library frequenters, and Lived Experience Academy members. They addressed issues of cultural identity, racism, behavioral health treatment, cultural humility, recovery, and wellness, among many other topics. Following the panel was a dynamic Question and Answer session, facilitated by moderator, Alan Cochran. The event came to a close with raffle prizes and some heartfelt thanks to the presenters from Katy Davis, training coordinator.

For more information about the Lived Experience Academy, or to request a speaker for your event, please contact Kim Westrick (kwestrick@smcgov.org.com).