Centre County has mental health on the brain this September — at least if the Jana Marie Foundation has anything to say about it.
The nonprofit is hosting “An Evening of Hope, Healing and Remembrance” from 5:15-8 p.m. on Sunday at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.
Last week, foundation President Marisa Vicere teamed with the central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a rally outside of the Centre County Courthouse.
She estimates that almost 50 people turned out in support of mental health.
“We received a lot of really great feedback from it,” Vicere said.
More are expected to turn out for Sunday evening’s event. A community dinner with food provided by Dickey’s Barbeque Pit will get things started.
We’re going to set up one really long table so that people can all eat together.
“We’re going to set up one really long table so that people can all eat together,” Vicere said.
The evening’s entertainment will include live music, original poetry by three Delta Program students and a performance by dancer Dmitry Myers.
From the earliest days of the Stompers Project — an exercise that proves that it is in fact possible to build sculptures using old sneakers — art has played a central role in the Jana Marie Foundation’s mission.
“I believe that it creates a safe way for people to express these feelings and start these tough conversations,” Vicere said.
Case in point, the foundation is teaming with Fuse Productions to explore some of the themes behind the musical “Fun Home” on Sept. 11 at the State College Municipal Building.
Fuse will be producing the full show from Sept. 21- 23 at Schwab Auditorium, but on Monday the cast will perform songs from the production that will feed into a larger panel discussion moderated by Carolyn Donaldson.
I think mental wellness is becoming something that’s on the top of everyone’s mind.
Arts or no arts, the Jana Marie Foundation has been trying to raise the profile of mental health issues for the past five years.
According to the AFSP, each year almost three times as many people die by suicide than homicide in Pennsylvania, cementing its status as the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34 and the third leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
“I think mental wellness is becoming something that’s on the top of everyone’s mind,” Vicere said.
From 9 a.m.–noon on Sept. 19, the foundation is collaborating with PeerStar, LLC to offer a suicide prevention course at 945 E. Bishop Street in Bellefonte.
The training will teach participants how to spot potential warning signs and what to do if you suspect someone might be at risk for taking their own life.
Additional support for those suffering from emotional distress or suicidal thoughts can be found by dialing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.