Dallas District Attorney Susan Hawk to speak on mental health stigma at May 20 Library Forum

Dallas District Attorney Susan Hawk to speak on mental health stigma at May 20 Library Forum

The Dallas Public Library and National Alliance on Mental Illness Dallas (NAMI Dallas) are partnering to promote mental health awareness in May with the library’s Second Annual Community Forum from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, May 20 in the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library Auditorium.

The event will feature Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk, who recently recovered from a very public mental health crisis and now uses her experiences to provide a voice for mental health awareness. The event also features a panel of family members of people with mental illness and representatives from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Metrocare Services, Transicare, Inc. and the Dallas Police Department.

The forum is open to anyone, but registration is required by visiting www.dallaslibrary.org/homeless  or by calling (214) 670-1718.

The forum is held as part of the Dallas Public Library’s Homeless Engagement Initiative, dedicated to increasing community awareness of issues related to homelessness and to provide people experiencing homelessness with engagement activities and one-on-one assistance at the Central Library.

“It’s not just the homeless who struggle with mental illness,” said, Dallas Public Library Adult Services Administrator Jasmine Kallenberg. “Many of us have been affected by mental illness in some way, either personally or indirectly through the experiences of close friends and family members. We just have homes to hide away in. They don’t.”

According to the 2015 U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey, 40 percent of Dallas’ adult homeless population suffers from a serious mental illness. However, mental illness is not unique to people experiencing homelessness. An estimated one in four adults experience mental illness every year in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Mental Health. Despite its prevalence, funding for mental health services is limited with Texas ranking 48th in mental health funding across the U.S.

“It is important to be educated about mental health issues and to have the appropriate support systems and tools in place because statistics indicate that it is likely that you or someone close to you may experience mental health struggles,” said Executive Director of NAMI Dallas Marsha Rodgers. “At NAMI Dallas, we know that by working together we can make a difference by just saying these three words to family and friends…I Will Listen.”

The Community Forum will highlight mental health issues in Dallas, including related stigma, obstacles to treatment and how mental health intersects with other issues including overall health, poverty, crime, and homelessness.

The Dallas Public Library’s Homeless Engagement Initiative was established in 2013 with support from the Friends of Dallas Public Library. To date, the library has successfully engaged more than 4,000 members of the homeless community in library programs, mentorship and personalized assistance services and has helped 26 people navigate their way out of homelessness. In 2016, Dallas Public Library was honored as a National Medal Finalist for Museum and Library Service for its work with the homeless. For more information on the library’s Homeless Engagement Initiative visit www.dallaslibrary.org/homeless.

Serving Dallas and the surrounding areas, NAMI Dallas, a 501(c)3, provides support, education and advocacy free of charge for individuals and family members impacted by mental health conditions. With 1 in 5 Americans being affected by mental illness each year, NAMI Dallas actively promotes #IWILLLISTEN, a campaign which encourages everyone to make the pledge of three simple words … I Will Listen.  These words can be uttered to family, friends and coworkers privately or can be communicated on social media with the hashtag of #IWILLLISTEN to let anyone and everyone know you are there for them.  To learn more about NAMI Dallas, visit www.NAMIDallas.org or follow the non-profit on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and YouTube.


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