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Mental Health awareness takes to the streets

The annual Families First Mental Health Awareness walk was held in Elizabethtown

The annual Families First Mental Health Awareness walk was held in Elizabethtown Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Students, caregivers, families and friends took to the streets of Elizabethtown May 10 to promote awareness for children with mental illness.

The annual Families First Mental Health Awareness walk was held in Elizabethtown and opened with Executive Director JoAnne Caswell talking about Mental Health Awareness Month.

“There is still a lot of stigma associated with mental health and that is why we are here,” Caswell said. “Today is to try and wipe some of that out. If we can get to those in need of mental health services and get to them early, then we can really help to make a difference in their lives.”

Those in attendance also heard from Amy Catanzarita, who works for the Essex County Social Services Department as a parent aid and also works with her son, who suffers from a mental illness.

“The stigma of mental health is about disrespect and it can be a barrier that discourages families from getting the help that they need,” Catanzarita said. “We need to emphasize the abilities and the strengths of children with mental illness, not the limitations. By working together, communities can help to put those families and children first.”

“It is very important to have community involvement and awareness around this issue,” Social Services Director Steve Valley said.

Following remarks, the crowd made their way from the town park to the Adirondack History Center, then walked around Hand Avenue, eventually making their way to a barbecue at the Families First offices.

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