It was helpful to have firsthand experiences shared with the group because there is nothing more powerful in breaking down stigma than hearing a personal story.
On May 10, 2016, The Kennedy Forum is partnering with the Chicago Community Trust to facilitate hundreds of conversations about mental health and addiction across Illinois. Honest conversations among colleagues, friends and family can create a culture of understanding, helping to end stigma and breaking down barriers to care and support. Discussions across stakeholders can help identify pathways to solutions and create new partnerships to drive progress. You can learn more about what happened last year, who participated and the results here.
Please consider hosting a conversation this year.
Please register by April 15th. As you are guided through the registration process, you will be prompted to enter some basic information and to create a customized home page for your event. When registering, please select The Kennedy Forum as your affiliated organization in the drop down box.
Here is how hosting works:
- You determine a location to meet on May 10, 2016 for a mealtime conversation. You can have your breakfast, lunch or dinner wherever you want (e.g. home, workplace, restaurant, church), serve whatever you like, or have everyone bring something or chip in.
- We will provide you with a host packet that includes lots of helpful information including potential topics, conversation guides, tips about organizing and background facts.
- You decide who you would like to invite. Friends and family? Neighbors? Colleagues? We recommend 10-12 guests at each gathering. If you would like to invite public community members to participate in your gathering, you can indicate your event is open to guests and how many. We encourage you to try to include individuals or family members who live with mental illness or addiction.
- You determine the theme of your conversation. Click here for a downloadable discussion guide and general mental health conversation themes and resources. For example, some possible topics might include: how do I/we experience mental health stigma and how can I/we address it? What can my school do better to detect, address and support students with mental health challenges? What can our company/workplace do to build a culture that supports those with mental health and addiction disorders? What is the new mental health parity law and how can we educate ourselves and others about their rights under the law?
- If you represent an organization, employer or other large group, you can help The Kennedy Forum elevate the dialogue by sharing this information and encouraging your organization to host multiple conversations. Set a goal for your group, 5 conversations? 10? Let us know how we can help you achieve it.
Need more information? Click here and send us your questions. We’ll follow up with you via email or by phone to help answer any questions and assist you with planning.
If you would like to participate in a conversation about mental health/addiction but not as a host, let us know here. We will work to connect you to host conversations that invite public guests.
All of us can help address stigma around mental health and addiction. Talking openly about mental illness signals to others that they’re not alone, and it also opens up a dialogue about how we can better treat people with mental illness in the future. Click here for more tips about how to open a dialogue with those you love, and those around you.
Testimonials from last year’s On The Table:
“The big ah-ha moment for me was realizing that I don’t have a depression/anxiety support group. I kept thinking, This is SO amazing to hear other people’s stories, because it explains so much about my own life!”
“I learned that individuals with mental health can be successful in their lives. There are many people who are diagnosed with mental health that go on to have successful careers.”
“I learned that for the Lake County’s Hispanic community, it’s not just a language issue, but also there are cultural differences that present barriers to seeking mental health care. I learned how the ability to work is an important element of wellness – a job can offer hope/purpose, the loss of a job can trigger a crisis. There is a need to have a diversity of job opportunities in this community so that people with disabilities can find appropriate work.”