Vinfen was pleased to attend the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) 2018 Northeast Area Legislative Breakfast on July 19 in the Great Hall at Massachusetts State House. The event was sponsored by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Bradford R. Hill, who both shared and celebrated with the audience.
The event featured keynote speaker Department of Mental Health Commissioner Joan Mikula who noted DMH’s recent accomplishments. Emcee Emmanuel Hernandez introduced the two legislative sponsors who addressed the need to adequately support funding for mental health programs. Representative Hill specifically noted that support for mental health funding is a bipartisan issue.
Following the Commissioner and legislative sponsors, three individuals took the stage to share their stories on how “change equals new opportunities,” which was the theme of the morning gathering. Thomas, a father to a daughter with depression and anxiety, shared that “…DMH funding saved our daughter.” He applauded the courage it takes to get help, to participate in society and to continue to fight for the advocacy of mental health. Speaker Shannon acknowledged “the system has worked for me.” The mother to a preteen son, she survived multiple suicide attempts, but chose to make changes in her life and seek out help. She expressed gratitude towards DMH and their support. She currently has custody of her son, is enrolled in college, and maintains a 4.0 grade point average. Concluding the event was Ashley who shared her story of finding her identity. “I had no hope…” she noted. But with the support of DMH and her family, she is now living independently and plans to become a peer support worker to help and inspire others.
Each speaker received standing ovations as the sponsors, emcee, and audience members thanked them for sharing their stories of triumph.