The Bayonne Interfaith Clergy Association will once again host mental health events
The Bayonne Interfaith Clergy Association is partnering with the City of Bayonne to host a series of mental health awareness events at 16th Street Park. The inaugural streak began last summer as residents looked for some normality amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
In conversation with the News from the Bayonne communityRev. Dorothy Patterson of the Wallace Temple AME Zion Church described how important these types of events are now more than ever.
Promoting mental health awareness
“We still hold onto the underlying theme of mental health awareness,” Patterson said. “This piece is important. You can’t let that go. It’s just too big. We see it every day.”
Patterson saw the need for more mental health awareness and said the Bayonne Interfaith Clergy Association had decided to hold the series of events again. The first event will focus on knowledge sharing and awareness raising.
“So we’re providing resources that are focused on mental health awareness,” she said.
This event will provide residents with mental health resources and information along with some free sweet treats on June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at 16th Street Park. Patterson said there are a number of organizations in Bayonne and some that operate nationwide and will be present.
“We’re going to have at least 20 different organizations there just for people to come out and get free information,” she said. “We’ll probably also have free ice cream that we’ll give out because it’s probably going to be a hot day in June.”
Film screening in July
Following a format similar to last year, Patterson said the second event will be a film showing at the park next month. Local residents can gather to watch”Encanto” at approximately 7:30 p.m. July 28 at 16th Street Park or after the sun has set to see the film outside.
“Then we’ll come back in July and do a movie,” Patterson said. “The underlying theme is still [mental health awareness].”
Patterson added that there will be a presentation before the film starts, possibly something related to school safety. In the course of the killing spree in Uvalde, among other problems in schools, the topic is highly topical.
“Based on everything that’s going on, we can do something about it, maybe a 30-minute segment, and then we go into the movie,” she said.
Similar mental health resources will also be available at the second event. According to Patterson, the goal of the screening is also to promote mental health awareness.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of what’s going on in terms of your own personal mental health,” she said.
Part of being aware is engaging with it Self-care, striving to be mentally healthier, and breaking the stigma of mental health and seeking treatment, Patterson said.
Break the stigma
Sometimes the stigma around mental illness and getting help is enough to prevent people from seeking treatment. Patterson wants to address that, too.
“Those stigmas become a barrier and walls that are put up don’t allow us to be the healthier person we can be,” she said. “They are a hindrance to seek advice.”
According to Patterson, she and many of her peers have a counselor, which is an important part of maintaining good mental health.
“Something we really want to emphasize is having a counselor, someone you can come with and talk to about any situation or challenge that may come up in your life,” she said. “Over the last two years it’s definitely made the situation worse because you’re grieving after grief after grief… I don’t have all the answers, but I tell people all the time that they are looking for help. There are agencies, there are advice centers, there are people in this city who can help. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them. That’s what consultants do.”
Patterson reiterated that there has never been a more important time for mental health awareness, which is why the series of events continued this year. And more events are likely to be announced for the coming months.
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