Imagine an Iraqi war veteran sitting at your table with tears in their eyes thanking you for helping them with their rent payment. Imagine also a grandparent sitting with a group of people sharing their story about the loss of their grandson from suicide. Finally, picture yourself in a room full of 3rd graders sharing their stories of being bullied. Life sized puppets have come to their classroom to demonstrate and teach them exactly what bullying is and how to protect themselves if they encounter a bully in their young lives. These people and more are just a few of the lives that are touched through the many programs, support groups and educational activities of the Mental Health Association in Talbot County (MHATC).
“As a United Fund of Talbot County agency,” said Jackie Davis, executive director of MHATC, “we simply could not provide the programs and services we currently offer without the support of the United Fund. MHATC is deeply grateful to the United Fund for their support over the years, especially during these continued difficult economic times.”
For over 55 years, MHATC has been present in the Talbot County community fulfilling a variety of unmet mental health needs. At first it served the patients in the Eastern Shore Psychiatric Hospital with visits, lunches and recreational outings. As times changed from long hospital stays to community living, the mission of MHATC changed to meet the new challenges of defeating the stigma associated with those living with a mental illness and fighting for equal treatment and coverage from health insurance companies. Today, the mission at MHATC is to promote mental health through support, education, programs and advocacy.
MHATC programs are in the public schools with their Kids on the Block puppeteer program on “Bullying and School Safety” and an early learning series that teaches lessons on compassion, aggression and perseverance. Last school year this program reached over 1,700 school children throughout Talbot County. The Mental Health First Aid training program has taught hundreds of participants the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to help someone experiencing a crisis. The Veterans Fund assists local veterans in need seeking mental health treatment and waiting for their VA benefits to be in place. These programs as well as the educational activities, support groups and annual Legislative Forum address the community mental health needs in a variety of ways but keep the focus on maintaining a mentally healthy community.
As Ms. Davis states, “For one non-profit to continually serve its community over such a long period of time, is a testament to our ability to meet the local mental health community needs. More importantly though, the United Fund also recognizes this need and the importance of a mental health within our community”