During the month of May, IDHW’s Division of Behavioral Health joins with Regional Behavioral Health Boards across Idaho to recognize people who have worked to overcome mental illness, support others on the road to recovery, and end the stigma that prevents many more from seeking treatment.
On May 4, the division hosted the annual kick-off for national Mental Health Awareness Month, the Idaho Mental Health Awareness Month Award and Proclamation event. The event featured IDHW Director Russ Barron reading the proclamation of May as Mental Health Awareness Month from Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Division of Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds awarding the 2018 Voice of Idaho Award to Clark Richman of Kootenai County.
Time: 8 sec. – Idaho Division of Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds welcome and opening remarks.
Time: 3 min. 45. sec – Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Russ Barron remarks and reading of the governor’s proclamation of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Time: 7 min. 30 sec. – Comments from Megan Sharratt, an artist born and raised in Boise, ID. She grew up on a small farm outside Meridian. Megan attended high school at Bishop Kelly and college at Boise State University. She now lives in Salt Lake City, where she continues to pursue her passion for art, fashion, and adventure. She hopes to inspire people with her passion and love for life:
“Mental health doesn’t discriminate. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to have bad days. But the important part is that you ask for help and that you seek it out. And I’m so happy that I did, because life is so beautiful.”
“Find your tribe, whether it’s your dad, your mom, your best friend, your neighbor, your significant other, find that one person that brings you peace. Find those people that bring peace into your life, and don’t let go of them.”
“We started the treatment plan, and I’m happy to say that it’s working, and I’m level and productive and I no longer live in the dark.”
Time: 16 min. 20 sec. – Comments from Jenny Hayes-Millar and her father, John Longhurst. Jenny was born on September 25, 1979.
“I was later joined by a brother and two sisters. I struggled throughout school, but my mental illness was not recognized until I was 19 and not fully identified until I was 22. I am diagnosed as bipolar and schizoaffective, which is on the scale of schizophrenia. I have been hospitalized four times, but have been saved by medicine and loving family and friends.”
“There is help. There is hope. You can move forward.”
John: “My wife LaRue and I are the parents of four children who are all adults now. Each of them have been afflicted with varying degrees of mental illness.”
“Our children are mostly highly functional. They look normal, but they each have things where they need some help.”
“And it’s important to remember that to one extent or another, everyone is flawed, and nobody is perfect. Everyone without exception, whether they’re mentally ill or not has their own unique issues and challenges to face and overcome and so forth.”
“What we need to remember the most is not to judge.“
Time: 28 min. 53 sec. – Comments from Collin Freese. Collin is currently a senior at Meridian High School, where he is National Honor Society Senior Rep and the Meridian’s Mayors Youth Advisory Council President. After graduation, he plans to go on a five-month Discipleship Training School (DTS) in New Zealand and then will be attending Boise State to study engineering.
“The best part about it is when you grow, when you see all the beauty from all this, you can help other people with that.”
“I just knew that I had the passion and the heart to do this (create awareness around suicide prevention).”
“As I came from this brokenness that hurt so much to know that my sister was gone, as time went on, I healed. And as time went on I grew and this passion started to come out to do something about this.”
“I can tell you it’s worth fighting — it’s worth it in the end.”
Time: 46 min. 12 sec. — Introduction and Voice of Idaho Award presentation to Clark Richman. Clark has served for two years as the director of Trinity Group Homes, a Program of St. Vincent de Paul of North Idaho. Currently, Trinity Group Homes houses 51 adults with persistent mental health challenges. In those two years, the Trinity Program has evolved and expanded to include 16 studio apartments housing an additional 14 individuals and two married couples. Community involvement amongst Trinity residents in the form of employment, volunteering, and/or continuing education has increased from 30 percent to over 55 percent in the last two years.
Clark holds a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, a B.A. in Psychology and Communication from the University of Colorado. Clark has been a part of the human service field for over 25 years with 15 of those years working as a professional with children, adolescents and adults with mental illness and behavioral challenges.
“I have a moral duty to be an activist in Idaho.”
Mental health and specialty courts are “a coming together of law enforcement and treatment, and it all comes down to having a judge who can discern what is a criminal issue and what is a mental health issue.”