By Mandy Sliver

There has been no shortage of stories lately about strangers coming together to help in a time of crisis and tragedy.  Sometimes a time of crisis isn’t just a single event.  Sometimes a tragedy can take a long time to show itself.  Mental illness is a term that has become more and more prevalent in our society, but in my opinion most people are still afraid to talk about it.  Myself included.

In today’s society it is difficult to talk about topics like mental illness without the risk of upsetting someone.  And if you are a person who tries not to upset people, you are probably more likely to stay quiet rather than take that risk.  We see events happening all over our region about various mental health issues and I have talked to the event coordinators and they all have the same responses.  Attendance is usually lower than expected.  People will not commit ahead of time so they never know who will show up.  People are afraid to come to the event because they won’t know what to say.  I’m sure it’s very discouraging, but the leaders of these causes do not give up and for that, they get the first round of virtual applause from me today.

So now for the story I actually came here to tell today.  Recently, The River Center of Peterborough held a statewide online fundraising event to bring Lynn Lyons to our town to present “How to Interrupt the Worry Cycle: Effectively Managing Anxiety at Home & at School.”  Lynn Lyons, LICSW, is a NH-based licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist and a sought-after speaker.  For 27 years, Lynn has specialized in the treatment of anxiety disorders in adults and children. She is an international speaker and trainer on the subject of anxiety, its role in families, and the need for a preventative approach at home and in schools.  Now that I got the introductions out of the way, what does all this mean?  Children suffer from anxiety disorders too.  As the adults in their lives we can all learn how to recognize the signs and make these children feel safe because it takes a village.  The presentation is designed for parents, teachers, service providers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors.

Not only did River Center blow their fundraising goal out of the water, but they received so many registrations the event had to be moved to accommodate all of the people.  Even more astounding is that it is a free event (strangely enough, it’s actually harder to get people to register for free events than paid ones, but that is a phenomenon we can discuss later.)

Last time I checked, registration was at 225 people and counting.  I am so proud to be a part of a community that is willing to acknowledge that childhood anxiety is prevalent, admit that it does affect us and then dedicate the time to learn how to handle it.  All 225+ people deserve a round of virtual applause for recognizing and acknowledging that we should not be ashamed of our connections to anxiety disorders.  We need to talk about, learn about and face mental illness – not hide from it.

The new venue of the Peterborough Town House will hold 350 people so there is still room for more.  The event is on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM.  Click here to register for free.