Join the Conversation to End the Stigma

Imagine yourself wheezing, coughing and sneezing as the pollen count rises this spring. Would you ask your friends or family to recommend a doctor who can diagnose and treat allergies? Now imagine you are feeling so overwhelmed, you can’t get out of bed. You’re always tired, have trouble concentrating and have no interest in hanging out with your friends, something you have always enjoyed in the past. Do you ask around for a good therapist or psychiatrist to evaluate and treat your depression-like symptoms? Or do you suffer in silence, afraid to tell anyone you know that you may need help.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness in any given year, yet only 60% of adults with a serious mental illness receive mental health services. Some of the reasons people tend to avoid discussing symptoms of mental illness are lack of knowledge, fear of disclosure, rejection by friends, and discrimination. The Josselyn Center, a community mental health provider serving over 60 communities in Northern Illinois, is working with The Kennedy Forum Illinois to erase the stigma and shame of mental illness by participating in On The Table, an initiative developed by Chicago Community Trust, to engage tens of thousands of people in mealtime conversations with a purpose.

On Tuesday, May 12th, The Josselyn Center will invite the community to gather for dessert and a meaningful discussion to generate ideas to best support members of our community who have mental health issues – people you may already know, like a family member, neighbor, friend, co-worker or teammate. Maybe even you. This community event will be held at the Highland Park Recreation Center, 1207 Park Avenue West from 7-9pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The evening will begin with true stories shared by Erasing the Distance, a non-profit arts organization that uses the power of performances to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health. Erasing the Distance will share true stories that promise to captivate the community’s attention, challenge assumptions, and touch hearts. Following the performance, Suzan Eckstein, LCSW and Director of Clinical Services at The Josselyn Center will join the troupe to guide the community in an open discussion about mental illness and ways to encourage and support those in need of mental health services so they feel comfortable and safe asking for help.

With the support of Mayor Nancy Rotering and the City of Highland Park and partners including Erasing the Distance, Rebecca’s Dream, The Kennedy Forum Illinois and Chicago Community Trust, The Josselyn Center is eager to ensure that all people feel safe sharing their stories and asking for the mental health services they need. As a society, we need to begin treating mental illness like any other health condition that responds to treatment. Mental illness effects the brain and nervous system, like asthma effects the lungs and respiratory system. The stigma has to end, so real healing can begin. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information or to RSVP, please visit or call (847) 441-5600 ext. 124.