Marblehead is a wonderful place to call home. There is a strong sense of community where people look out for one another.
One strength of the town is the sense that the Golden Rule is lived here. Signs that residents seek to treat one another as they’d like to be treated abound. Organizations like SPUR, Marblehead Female Humane Society, Making Ends Meet and Seaglass Village provides opportunities for town folks to make personal connections and offer support to each other.
In this spirit of community, Marblehead Cares, under the umbrella banner of the Marblehead Mental Health Task Force, seeks to engage care, reduce stigma and connect residents to resources that support positive brain health in Marblehead.
Helaine Hazlett, a member of the Board of Health, explained, “The Board of Health met weekly for close to two years during the peak of the pandemic, when it became very clear that the mental health of our community, young and old, was at crisis level. With therapists unable to see more clients and with no end in sight, it was obvious that the board needed to step up and try to ease the mounting concern.”
She continued, “In March 2021, the board voted to appoint the Mental Health Task Force to assist the citizens of Marblehead with guidance and direction for care and support to address this issue and provide the appropriate intervention strategies to guide our citizens toward improved mental health.”
The MarbleheadCares.org website offers a compilation of resources that community members can access as needed. The website also houses a number of video broadcasts presented by local experts who provide guidance on where to turn for help. The programming offered includes a conversation about strategies to support mental health through COVID, understanding grief, transitions through aging, and suicide awareness.
On Saturday, April 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Marblehead Cares will be participating in the Lynch-van Otterloo YMCA Healthy Kids Day, offering engaging and interactive activities for children and families to enhance mental wellness. Included in the offerings will be assessments, opportunities to connect with our Marblehead Counseling Center and other local organizations, and a broad collection of resources and tools to support mental health wellness for our youth.
The task force is composed of community leaders, including Police Chief Dennis King, Select Board member Moses Grader, Marblehead High Principal Dan Bauer, Lisa Hooper from Council on Aging, Marblehead High counselor Ali Carey, Terri McDonough from the Marblehead Counseling Center, Kimberly Howard, Melissa Kaplowitch, Mark Libon, Susan Stelk and Kim Leventhall. It is chaired by Board of Health member Joanne Miller.
There are many voices and perspectives that collaborate with the task force, sharing insights that enhance an inclusive spirit. Wendy Kent, Sharon Doliber, Gina Rabbitt and Jack Attridge continually bring ideas and help create pathways for the group to reach new goals and strategies.
Most recently, the group has explored ways to encourage residents to look out for one another by reaching out to check in on their neighbors. If we can build connections and support each other through rough patches, we can potentially create broader wellness and avert poor outcomes.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Mental health heavily influences our quality of life. So it makes sense that mental health, just like physical health, needs to be taken care of and maintained. And one way that it can be maintained is finding a sense of community.”
Marblehead Cares initiatives continue to evolve and seek to meet the needs of our community as they arise.
Marblehead Cares is a monthly column written by the Marblehead Mental Health Task Force.