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Coffee house event a first for Dryden's Mental Health Awareness Week

A free coffee house event with live music and snacks will kick off Mental Health Awareness Week this year in Dryden.
mental health coffee house
(City of Dryden)

Residents of Dryden and surrounding areas are being invited to attend a coffee house event putting the spotlight on mental health on Monday Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

The free event is kicking off mental health awareness week and is taking place at the Centre. It will feature live music with local mental health service providers sharing information along with coffee, tea, and snacks.

Marcel Penner, the director of mental health at the Dryden Regional Health Centre and an organizer of the event, said this is the first time they are trying out the coffee house approach.

“This would just be a nice way to shine a light and say we’re actively doing things, and invite people out [to] make it a social gathering,” he said. ”We felt that it might be encouraging to the community and also have some local musicians involved, showcasing some of the local talent as well as sharing information.”

There’s a lot of stigma and misunderstanding about the discussion of mental health, said Penner. Isolation due to the pandemic hasn’t helped he added.

“We know people are struggling with depression. They are struggling with anxiety and people may not even realize that they are struggling with it. They just feel down, they feel blue. They haven’t been able to connect with friends, family freely. A number of those factors are things we want to get out to say, that’s normal. And that’s okay.”

Penner said it’s important to validate people’s feelings and let them know a range of emotions exist from positive to negative ones and none of them are wrong.

“You can have a variety of feelings including sadness, anger, joy, happiness, all of those are normal healthy emotions,” he said.

He said this work is part of the treatment pillar of Dryden’s community safety well-being advisory committee and the collection of unique agencies with different areas of support means variety services are available for a range of people, including the young to seniors.

“It’s a lot of fun to see people come together… and brainstorm on just how to make Dryden a place where people can thrive and do well,” he said.

Penner said depending on the reception of this event they may make the coffee house an annual event.