WILTON, Conn. -- The Wilton Congregational Church is hosting a special "Breaking the Silence" event to discuss mental health issues and their affects on the community.
"Breaking the Silence" begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at the Wilton Congregational Church at 70 Ridgefield Road in Wilton. The event features a moderated panel discussion and is open to the community free of charge.
"Like many Fairfield County towns, Wilton is an achievement-minded community. While the push for academic, athletic, artistic, professional and social success may lead some to excel, for others it results in stress, disappointment and loneliness," a press release said. "We nurture our physical health, openly discussing physicians, ailments and treatments with family and close friends, but when emotional challenges become overwhelming or the blues turn into depression, little is said."
Panelists include Wilton's Leslie Rogers, a Norwalk therapist; Wilton's Debra Hyman, who practices psychotherapy in Stamford; and Wilton High School senior Isabel Zayas.
“Many people feeling emotionally overwhelmed are uncomfortable talking to friends and family about their struggles. This leaves them isolated at a time when a connection to others may be the very thing that would help,” said Rogers. “We seem to accept people’s physical ailments more easily than we do emotional challenges, when in fact, both should be treated equally.”
The panel discussion aims to help students and adults in the community find informed answers to questions and learn more about issues such as:
- Common emotional concerns facing teens and adults in Wilton, such as stress, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol abuse;
- The warning signs that intervention may be needed;
- Who to turn to for help.
"Much of parenting entails teaching and modeling for our children to help them become the best they can be," said Hyman. "A great challenge we have as parents is to recognize that the teen years are a game changer. We have to learn a new paradigm for how we parent."
Hyman has 30 years of experience working in adolescent substance abuse treatment and seven years as director of Youth Options, an outpatient adolescent counseling service concentrating in substance abuse prevention and intervention.
Wilton High School's Zayas is also the founder of the school’s LETS club (Lets Erase the Stigma), and a founding member of a mental health advisory group dedicated to spreading the anti-stigma message.
“I started the LETS club because of my own struggles with anxiety and depression,” Zayas said. “I felt that my peers did not understand what I was going through—even my friends were intolerant of my situation—and realized that it was important to try to change the climate at Wilton High School toward mental illness. I especially wanted to help those who, because of the stigma associated with mental illness, might not seek the help they need. By speaking publicly about my private journey of recovery, I hope to put a human face on mental illness and encourage others not to be ashamed of who they are or what they have gone through."