Mental health is the topic of discussion for upcoming 'Hamilton Health Talks' event

FLINT, Michigan — The ever-growing discussion of mental health is an important one, and Hamilton Health Network knows that mental health is just as important as physical health. With their latest 'lunch and learn' series, Hamilton Health Talks, the organization hopes to help people manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

The free event includes a light lunch provided, and takes place on Wednesday, June 29 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lapeer District Library. Hamilton Community Health Network Lead Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator, Tim McCarron, said the series is all about meeting people where they’re at.

“Especially since the pandemic started, we’ve all been trying to brainstorm on different ways to reach people, and I think there’s a lot of health education and behavioral health and general topics that maybe people in health care might take for granted, but it’s not necessarily common knowledge,” McCarron said. “I think opening up those conversations so that people can get their questions answered, learn a little bit more about it, and feel a little bit more comfortable with it, takes away some of that stigma that might be associated with it.”

McCarron said there’s a lot of value in going where people already are, creating a more comfortable space. “People are already surrounded by their own peers in these centers or libraries, it is more of a friendly environment they’re already used to, and I think that opens up more questions they might not ask otherwise,” he said. 

Similar 'lunch and learn' talks have taken place at the newly-opened Hamilton-McFarlan Senior Health Center at 800 E. Court Street., and local senior centers. This topic, however, isn’t tailored to seniors, but rather, provides useful information for any age.

“We want to go over different things people can do to manage their stress and depression, especially during these times,” McCarron said. “We’ll also go over a little bit about post-traumatic stress disorder. We’ll touch base on a little bit about what Hamilton offers for alcohol-use disorder and opioid-use disorder treatment at our Lapeer clinic.”

The Lapeer District Library makes for a good central location, according to McCarron. 
Antonia Perry.
“We didn’t necessarily want people to have to come to our clinic, in the same building as Community Mental Health because we kind of felt like if people are already familiar with that building and going there, then they’re probably taking care of their health and behavioral health, and getting their questions answered,” he said. “We want to find some common ground that maybe we could find another population that maybe hasn’t taken the first step to seeking help or something like that.”

The 'lunch and learn' is scheduled for an hour-long timeslot, but McCarron said the program won’t take the entire time. 

“We will go over topics as well as some of the other services we do such as helping people find health insurance if they don’t have it, helping people get different resources even through the state, like food assistance or cash assistance, and things like that,” he said.

Much like all industries, the healthcare field is also experiencing shortages in staffing, and McCarron said these talks are a great alternative to traditional community clinic pop-ups. 

“For outreach, we can’t pull staff out of the clinics like we could before, and do health events where they can get screenings done, and so we wanted to think outside the box there as well,” he said. “We do have health educators and community health workers that are constantly helping our patients. They’re very busy, but they are a little bit more available [for these events].”

The June event will feature social worker, Antonia Perry, who will discuss the different aspects of behavioral health. McCarron said the goal is to get information out to people in convenient ways. 

“We tried a few virtual things, and we didn’t quite get the response,” he said. “We did want to try to do something in-person, and I think this will give us an opportunity where people can still social distance, wear masks, and all of that, but get vital information.”

Attendees are encouraged to show up for the free event, but can also register in advance at hamiltonchn.org or on Facebook.

Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.