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Why Birmingham’s Mental Health Day on Friday Comes at a Pivotal Time

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By Ryan Michaels

The Birmingham Times

With many still dealing with mental health issues two years after the pandemic, the city of Birmingham will have experts on hand Friday, May 13 to direct residents on ways to address depression, stress, feelings of being overwhelmed and more.

Community Mental Health Day is set to take place in Linn Park on Friday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature numerous local speakers including Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, and licensed therapists.

One major goal of the event is to remove the stigma of mental health and to show people that if they feel they need help for any situation, it’s OK to seek help.

“Some people look at getting help for mental health as a sign of weakness, but I do want to publicly state that that is probably not the best way to look at it,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “In fact, seeking help when one needs it is a strong step in the right direction.”

Observing May as Mental Health Awareness Month, Woodfin read from a proclamation during Tuesday’s City Council meeting that said, in part,

“Whereas it is my hope that events such as Community Mental Health Day will serve as a growing opportunity to promote mental health and wellness which can lead to higher overall productivity, better educational outcomes, a stronger economy, lower health care costs an improved family life and an improved quality of life.”

Crystal Mullen-Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, owner and founder of Strive Counseling Services a private practice that offers therapeutic mental health services and president of Nurture LLC, a non-profit organization in Birmingham, AL an organizer of the event said, “Our goal is to address the stigma of mental health support, link the community to accessible and affordable mental health services and provide community education on mental health and wellness.”

City Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman said mental health issues affect both the young and old.

During her senior year at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, Smitherman said a sophomore committed suicide by jumping from a building on campus. “Nobody suspected it or anything and…maybe if we had more resources or more people to talk to, maybe we could have saved a life,” Smitherman said.

The councilor said the elderly population also needs to consider why therapy is important.

“With the millennial generation…we’re more open to going to therapy because usually it’s the older generations that kind of tell you to just kind of pray it away, and really, I think you need a combination of both,” Smitherman said.

Speakers at the event include District Attorney Danny Carr; Sheriff Mark Pettway; Reggie Parker, a Birmingham-based licensed professional counselor; Dr. Leesha Ellis-Cox, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in Birmingham, and Bishop Van Moody, pastor, The Worship Center Christian Church.

There will also be free chair massages, free blood pressure checks, yoga and fitness classes, door prizes and food trucks.

Updated at 9:42 a.m. on 5/11/2022 to correct the spelling of a name.