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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Time to Refocus on the Inner Lives of Working People

New York, NY – May is Mental Health Awareness Month. May 1, was International Bereaved Mother’s Day, acknowledging mothers who have lost children.  

Ben Kimmel.

On Sunday, Friends of Recovery Rockland, a 501c3, held a Triple Play event at Clover Stadium. Attendees hoped for a rain-free day getting underway at 9:30 a.m. 

The program opened with yoga and meditation in memory of Reid Schwartz. Later, they held a car show dedicated to the memory of Bobby Hobbs in the parking lot. There was a remembrance walk in the afternoon, followed by a softball game.

“A Game to Remember” honored Eric Katzman, but the entire combined event served as a special day for parents to honor the children they’ve lost to overdoses. It was an effort to spread awareness and keep the names of their beloved children alive. People gathered to take part in a walk of life, a softball game, some food, some games for the kids, and to share some knowledge, wisdom and understanding. 

As an advocate and sponsor for the event, I was allowed the fortunate privilege of speaking at one point in the day. As a person in recovery, and with a heavy heart, I  shared my experience on the matter of loss. I am a son whose mother passed away with a pharmaceutically induced habit arising from pain management. I’ve also had dear friends who’ve fallen to substance and alcohol use disorder.

“We have to start treating the heart attack before it happens — not after,” is what I said. “There needs to be a new system and dynamic approach to the way we focus on mental health challenges. But more, there needs to be a way that we can humanize and normalize the conversations about mental illness.” 

There were people of all kinds at this event. Every background, culture, belief system and ethnicity was in attendance. We were all gathered to defeat stigmatization and the wreckages of stigma-based thinking.

Drug overdoses topped 100,000 in 2021. We need a radical new way to approach mental health disorders in this country. People who struggle need to feel comfortable about coming forward and seeking the care they deserve.

Although there are people who say, “Not in my home” and “Not my kid” or “Not in my backyard ”  I have news for you…  
this is happening in all homes, in all different backyards, and to all kids. I offer this simple report in an effort to unify and normalize conversations — and as a friend, a parent, a specialist, and as a person in this world who wants to make a difference.  

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at bennyk1972@gmail.com

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