April 2023

In This Issue:
  • Join us on April 27 to kick off May is Mental Health Month
  • MHARI & NAMI 2023 Policy Briefing is scheduled for April 25th on Zoom
  • Get to know your local Health Equity Zone!
  • Local Author Cynthia Wilcox Releases Book: Simple Therapy Snippets
  • Overcoming Youth Anxiety & Depression: Meet Nina DiBenedetto
  • And more...
Join us on April 27th, 2:00 pm at the State House to Kick Off May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
This free annual event highlights the importance of our mental health. We are calling on our leaders to help ensure that every Rhode Islander has access to timely, affordable, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services

This year we will hear inspirational stories of hope and recovery from people with lived experience. We are honoring two Legislators of the Year, Senator Joshua Miller (Dist. 28, Cranston and Providence) and Representative Jacquelyn Baginski (Dist. 17, Cranston), for their 2022 legislation establishing Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in Rhode Island. 

We will also present the Mental Health Hero of the Year award to Megan Clingham, Director of the Office of the Mental Health Advocate, for her dedicated advocacy and compassion for our most vulnerable Rhode Islanders. 

Barbara Morse of Channel 10 News will also speak. 

All are welcome. Please wear BLUE to show your solidarity with the mental health community, and feel free to bring a poster. There will be a meet-and-greet with legislators after the event. We are asking providers, consumers and family members to share their stories with legislators. 

To see a calendar of community events in May, please visit: https://mhari.org/may-is-mental-health-month-2023/ 

Thank you to May is Mental Health Month
sponsors and supporters!
Interfaith RI
2023 Mental Health
Policy Briefing
April 25 at 12:00

Grab your lunch and learn about the mental health community’s most pressing legislation and budget items.

NAMI RI Executive Director Beth Lamarre and MHARI Executive Director Laurie Pisciotta will co-present a virtual mental health policy briefing on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.
Please register for this Zoom meeting in advance. Click here to register.
Get to Know Your Local
Health Equity Zone!
Rhode Island's network of Health Equity Zone (HEZ) collaboratives are on the front-line in helping to build resilient and healthy communities.

The Health Equity Zone (HEZ) Initiative is a network of 15 collaboratives across the state, each uniquely defined by the needs of their community. The HEZ model builds the power of community members to address the underlying factors in their neighborhoods that have the greatest impact on health outcomes. It is an equity-centered approach that is place-based, community-led and focuses on addressing the social determinants of health.
An example is the OneCranston HEZ, supported by their backbone agency Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP). OneCranston just opened The Huddle Center to provide services that help Cranston families access parenting tips and connect with each other. They have drop-in hours 6 days per week; parenting workshops; staff that assist in connecting families to services and supports, and more. And, the Huddle Center is just one of OneCranston’s initiatives! OneCranston has five main initiatives, including a Youth Opportunity Zone and a Built Environment Initiative to address lead education and testing, beautification, and public transit.
Meet Sarah Cote OneCranston HEZ Initiative Director!

Click here to listen in on a conversation with Sarah Cote (LICSW) and MHARI Program Manager Karen Malcolm.
Local Author Cynthia Wilcox Releases Book:
Simple Therapy Snippets
Musings of an aging psychotherapist...

I have been a clinical social worker in Rhode Island since 1967 and in full-time private practice since 1977. During that time I have collected many stories and sayings I have used over and over. After a cancer scare in January 2022 I began wondering what my legacy might be and began writing down those stories and sayings. After my list reached about 20, I asked my friend Thea Ernest if she would draw some illustrations for them. What she returned to me are hilarious! Suddenly we had a book, and published it at Stillwater Books in Pawtucket. I titled it “Simple Therapy Snippets.”

Click here to read more from Cynthia Wilcox...
Overcoming Youth Anxiety & Depression
Meet Nina DiBenedetto
I am 24 years old and among the 1 in 5 people who have suffered with anxiety and depression. I would feel confused, lonely, unworthy and had constant thoughts of not being enough. I let these thoughts take control and it hurt me in more ways than one. I realized that I didn’t want my illness to rule my life.”e
Meet Nina DiBenedetto, a contestant in the next Miss Rhode Island USA Pageant scheduled for the end of May at the Vets Memorial Auditorium in Providence. Nina’s journey began a decade ago, when she started competing in pageants at the young age of 14 years old. She says, “Pageants have taught me a lot about myself. They made me dig deeper into who I am and who I want to be. Pageants have helped me gain an abundance of confidence over the years.” She admits that one of the reasons she competes is that it allows her to share her personal story with those struggling the same way as she did, with anxiety, self-doubt, and loneliness. She hopes to help as many as possible by sharing her story.

Addressing her mental health issues, Nina says “I am 24 years old and among the 1 in 5 people who have suffered with anxiety and depression. I would feel confused, lonely, unworthy and had constant thoughts of not being enough. I let these thoughts take control and it hurt me in more ways than one. I realized that I didn’t want my illness to rule my life.” 

So, she took back her life, and while her healing journey wasn’t easy, it has definitely been worth it. For her, the gym is her personal escape. The gym taught her how to hold herself accountable, increase her energy level and left her with a sense of achievement. She also goes on long walks to help clear her mind on difficult days. It gives her a sense of peace. 

Nina realized she had a choice to keep going, rather than to stop. In her own words, “I am someone’s reason. I have a purpose in this life whether I know it now or figure it out later. I am stronger than my depression and anxiety. I am capable of many incredible things. Just like everyone out there…just like you”

Beyond the stage and interest in pageantry, she is a college student at the Community College of Rhode Island pursuing nursing. Her goal is to pursue a career as a Labor and Delivery nurse, caring for mothers and babies in their most vulnerable times. 

Nina sums up her motivation this way, “I do this because of that young boy or girl sitting in the audience struggling with their mental health, self-doubt, and loneliness. All we need is to be heard, to be seen and to be accepted.”

If you would like to follow and support Nina on her journey in the upcoming Miss Rhode Island USA Pageant, please click here and join her on Saturday, 29th April 2023 at the Park Theater in Cranston.
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Click here for the latest 2023 overview of the State of Mental Health in America report from Mental Health America.

Like what
we're doing?
Work With Us
The Mental Health Association of Rhode Island is hiring a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Project Manager. To learn more and apply, click here.

Join the Board
We are seeking new Board Members, particularly individuals who have experience or expertise in: finance and fundraising; organizational development and HR; diversity, equity and inclusion; prevention; and youth/adolescent mental health. Interviews begin in the spring. Board terms begin on July 1, 2023. Send your inquiries and résumés to MHARIboard@mhari.org .  

We welcome volunteers to serve on our Fundraising Committee. Contact michelle.miller@mhari.org if interested.

Intern With Us
Internships offer the opportunity to gain experience and a deeper understanding of the barriers to treatment. Earn academic credit while making a positive impact in the mental health community. We always need interns to help with non-clinical research projects, patient surveys,policy, and program development. Sometimes we have grant funding to pay interns. Contact riparity@mhari.org if you are interested.

Share Your Story
Voters’ stories are powerful and can move elected officials to make positive change. Share your story through MHARI's new story bank. Click here for more. 
Upcoming meetings, webinars, special invitations, and events!

Behavioral Health & Homelessness Prevention Training Group (BHHP)
BHHP offers trainings to support those working in the field and has a whole calendar of valuable trainings both virtual and in-person. Thanks to RI’s Consolidated Homeless Funds, SAMHSA and BHDDH all trainings are free of charge. Registration is required however. Click here for the calendar and to register. Any training questions or suggestions for future trainings can be directed to housingfirsttraininggroup@gmail.com.

Ongoing trainings for mental health professionals
The Substance Use Mental Health Leadership Council (SUMHLC) offers a number of useful trainings for providers. Click here for a listing of training opportunities available, and check back periodically as new classes are added.
The Mission of the
Mental Health Association of RI (MHARI) is to promote and nourish mental health through advocacy, education, and policy development.

Our website is filled with resources to help those living with mental health challenges. Please feel free to visit the site as often as you need. Your shares of relevant pages on your social media could offer just the help that someone needs. Thank You!
The Mental Health Association of RI (MHARI) is a private, 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is 100% funded by grants and donations.
Won't you consider supporting MHARI today?