Open Letter From I Am Beacon Re Mental Health Information In Dutchess County

The week before the Rock Out 4 Mental Health concert, Brooke Simmons from I Am Beacon circulated this Open Letter to all of her contacts, in the hopes that it would reach far and wide. We are publishing it here as well to help make that happen:

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Dear Neighbors, Allies, Friends, and Family,

As we celebrate our veterans this Memorial Day weekend and close out Mental Health Awareness month this May, please take a moment to reflect on your service to the community.

In recent years, we seen far too many families fractured by issues related to mental health.

With 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiencing a mental illness and 50% of all cases beginning by age 14 it is critical that begin to recognize mental health impacts us all.

When it comes to the Hudson Valley, it is our belief that our area is services rich yet information poor.

Despite the valiant efforts of many organizations addressing mental health there is a lack of awareness and knowledge which result in many in our community being left to suffer in silence.

With our upcoming event, Rock Out 4 Mental Health, it is our vision to bridge the gap between the community and available services in order to highlight the importance of knowing where to go for help and to empower individuals to take action in order to help themselves or others.

In addition to learning about services, there will also be free, walk-up NARCAN training providing by Dutchess County giving all participants the ability to be certified in administering this life saving treatment.

I Am Beacon believes in the power of a collaborative effort to address issues impacting our community.

It is my ask of you, to come out on June 1st 12PM– 4PM at Pete & Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park - Beacon, NY.

Join us in ending the silence and taking the first step toward a better tomorrow for all Hudson Valley residents.

With gratitude and many thanks,
Brooke M. Simmons, I Am Beacon
***Please note Rain Date: Sunday, June 2

When A Stranger Walks Through Your Door - Who Needs Mental Health Help - And The Concert Is Saturday


Last Friday, while in the midst of our weekly deadline for getting out the Happening This Weekend newsletter, a woman walked into A Little Beacon Blog's office, looking for help. She thought it was the substance abuse center, Lexington Center for Recovery (though she couldn’t remember the name and had contact information for a totally different organization), that had been located down Main Street, that is now becoming an apartment building. She saw the Rock Out 4 Mental Health flyer on our door, and the logos of mental health agencies who are helping make it happen, and thought she was in the right place.

She hadn't slept for days. Her accent was unfamiliar. The urgent problem she was trying to get help for - keeping her husband alive (he was currently in the hospital after almost dying of alcoholism, and she feared him coming home because she didn't know what to do with him to keep him safe) - made it so that she talked very fast, with hopelessness. Her sentences zig-zagged with what she needed, making it hard to find a thread to follow to work on a solution. She'd given up hope of finding help from Beacon and any other resource, and didn't know where to go.

Sometimes a situation happens, and you ask yourself: "Am I to be learning something from this? What is the message?" It became an opportunity for us to navigate the world of mental health resources, with a real person, really suffering. A Little Beacon Blog agreed to help with the Rock Out 4 Mental Health concert because it was an opportunity to meet the players, to talk to the people on the other side of the phone or email or website. To make them more real, and understand what they offer. That concert happens this Saturday (unless it rains, then it’ll be on Sunday) at Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park from 12 to 4 pm. It's free, and there will be mozzarella sticks (and other food like sausage), live music, and specialists in the areas of mental health.

Meanwhile, back in the office on a Friday afternoon of Memorial Weekend, we called the Dutchess County Help Line. They answered, but our questions quickly multiplied. When you're at the beginning of a research journey navigating hospitals, counseling, rehab centers, it's a lot. We called a personal friend who works deep in the world of mental health, and she quickly referred us to Family Services in Beacon on Henry Street, and to the MHA in the DMV Building on Main Street, and to Grace Smith House if the woman felt too afraid to be home, plus they may be able to give her guidance if she were to go there. Another friend recommended NAMI if she needed an advocate or counselor to help her navigate the medical areas where she was encountering hurdles, while trying to figure out what to do with her addicted husband who had just had a blood transfusion and was a hot potato in the hospital - she didn't want him released, yet they were done with their medical procedures.

In the end - for that hour - we encouraged her to walk to Family Services which is nearby, and see what they tell her next. In-person research is so important. We then highly encouraged her to go home and get some rest, because sleep deprivation causes its own problems. She first headed across the street to the grocery store to get cat food, and then to Family Services. Hopefully she felt a little more hope in her quest.

Come to the concert this weekend. You'll get to hear The Costellos, Noetic, Dilson Hernandez, Tony E., Charge the Mound, Russ St. George, Jerry Kitzrow, DJ Big Will, with sound by Tony ‘Pops’ DeMarco. You never know when you or someone you know or don't know needs these services. It's comforting to put faces to organizations.