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Three of the women involved in organizing a gathering for those affected by mental health issues are, from left, Shelley Austin, Valerie Kingsbury and Laurie White. The fourth organizer is Valerie Hollingsworth.
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TRURO, N.S. – The women who organized an upcoming event are familiar with mental health issues: they’ve all had mental illness make a huge impact on their lives.
The experience of struggling with mental health issues, or watching a close family member do so, spurred Valerie Kingsbury, Laurie White, Shelley Austin and Valerie Hollingsworth to take steps to help others.
As a minister at First United Church, Kingsbury often speaks to people who feel they lack support, are isolated and are frustrated with long waiting lists for help.
“It’s very much a part of our being and our daily experience,” she said. “Sometimes people just need a human connection and we have a vision to provide a safe place for people to gather and support one another.”
She hopes people will talk to them about what they feel is needed and special activities to benefit mental health can be planned.
“People will often share when they know you’ve walked what they’re going through. Mental health is often tied in with addictions,” said White, an addiction education consultant and Shamanic practitioner who has been sober for 42 years.
Austin is a businesswoman and co-founder of ‘Lead with the Heart,’ a foundation that provides support for mental health programming, and Hollingsworth is a holistic practitioner.
“People often aren’t aware of what’s available in the community,” said Kingsbury. “We want to network with organizations and provide another resource.
“We hope people living with mental health issues will join us for an informal evening of food, refreshments and conversation and share information. We need to decide together what we need.”
People are invited to gather at First United Church Hall Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. Anyone who needs a drive is welcome to call the church at 902-895-8098.