Town hall meeting to focus on substance abuse, mental illness in children, teens

April 11, 2013

Amid growing concerns about the relationship between substance abuse and mental illness in children and adolescents, the Harford County Office on Mental Health will hold an educational town hall meeting for Harford County families and service providers. A panel of local experts on drug abuse, mental illness and suicide prevention will present information about recent trends and local resources.

The town hall meeting, "Resiliency: Building a Path to Recovery for Children and Adolescents," is scheduled on Thursday May 2 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the William N. McFaul Activities Center. Admission is free and a light dinner of sandwiches and beverages will be available.

The panel presentation will begin with remarks by Robin Smith, a Harford County parent who became an advocate for education and awareness after her teen-age son experienced mental illness as a result of synthetic drug use.

Other panel members are:

• Peg Taibi, Edgewood Middle School counselor and coordinator of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program;

• Joe Ryan, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, Harford County Department of Community Services;

• Alaina Springer, The School Outreach and Advocacy Program (SOAP), Family & Children's Services of Central Maryland Inc.; and

• Jennifer Redding, LCSW-C, executive director of Harford Counseling.

The Office on Mental Health will also present the Mary Guisewhite Award to an individual who has best reflected the compassion and dedication shown by the founder of the Harford County Chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Mary Guisewhite. She was a longtime volunteer at the local and state level, and was an unselfish, dedicated mental health advocate.

"Resiliency: Building a Path to Recovery for Children and Adolescents" is sponsored by the Office on Mental Health/Core Service Agency of Harford County, the Department of Community Services Local Management Board, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Harford County Chapter and the Mental Health Association of Maryland.

The William N. McFaul Activities Center is at 525 W. MacPhail Road, Bel Air, Maryland 21014. Parking is free.

The Office on Mental Health/Core Service Agency of Harford County Inc. develops and monitors public mental health services for individuals of all ages who live in Harford County. The OMH is a private non-profit organization funded by Maryland's Mental Hygiene Administration, federal block grants and Harford County Government.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need.

The Department of Community Services/ Local Management Board brings together agencies that organize and ensure services and supports to help families raise healthy, successful children from birth to young adulthood. The Mental Health Association of Maryland works to promote mental health, prevent mental disorders and achieve victory over mental illness through advocacy, education, research and service

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