May is Mental Health Awareness Month

In the United States, psychiatric disorders have now surpassed other disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer as the number one cause of disability. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people each year, impacting not only the individuals affected but also their education, employment, family and friends.

Although treatment is effective and Connecticut has been recognized nationally for its work in the recovery movement, recent statewide layoffs have disproportionately affected Southwestern CT’s public mental health system. One third of those layoffs directly impacts Fairfield County, despite widely recognized needs for more mental health services.

Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB) encourages community members to learn more about mental health and to support programs through education and advocacy. SWRMHB is one of five Regional Mental Health Boards in our state that play a vital role in Connecticut’s mental health service system through needs assessment, priority planning, and evaluation. SWRMHB also provides trainings and coordinates awareness events with multiple agencies.

During May, which is recognized nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month, Southwest Regional Mental Health Board invites the Fairfield County community to support the cause of mental health by attending one of more than 50 events open to the public.

Included in these events are:

  • Free screenings of the new social action documentary Healing Voices, as part of a global premiere. The film, which will be shown May 1 (Stamford), May 2 (Bridgeport) and May 4 (Norwalk), explores the experience commonly labeled “psychosis" through the stories of three real-life individuals.

  • “Using Labyrinths as a Spiritual Tool to Complement Mental Health,” an interactive presentation by Rev. Debra Slade in Norwalk on May 9.

  • Free ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), the only SAMHSA-registered, evidence-based suicide intervention training, which offers CEUs to qualified participants.

  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainings, including Adult and Youth modules, as well as the first ever Spanish-language MHFA courses in Connecticut.

  • A laughter yoga program for young adults on May 16.

  • A Behavioral Health Listening Forum as part of CT’s new State Innovation Model project, to be held in Bridgeport on May 19.

  • Two innovative presentations on the relationship between nutrition and mental illness, one for behavioral health providers and one for community members, by psychiatrist Georgia Ede, MD, of Smith College, on May 26. There are also art shows, craft activities, wellness fairs, seminars, and music performances scheduled.

Visit for details on these and other events, aimed at increasing the importance of mental health and improving awareness within our community.

About the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board

SWRMHB is a nonprofit community advisory council dedicated to ensuring a high-quality mental health system that promotes recovery and wellbeing for the residents of southwestern Connecticut. SWRMHB represents and serves the communities of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. For more information visit the organization’s website: . SWRMHB also manages the award-winning website,, developed by and for young adults from Connecticut—“guiding the search for mental wellness.”