RUMFORD — It can be a very easy thing to pass judgment on someone based solely on their behavior or physical appearance. One might see a person who wears dirty clothes and talks to themselves as they walk down the street. They may see someone walking out of a mental health facility. They might have heard of a family member who has been hurting themselves and cannot understand why they would do that.

All of these scenarios lead to stigma of people with mental health issues. Like bullying, communities are attempting to nullify stigma for the many people it affects.

Education is the way to lessen the stress on people being judged by others.

For the third year in a row in the town of Rumford, organizers from the Consumer Council System of Maine are planning their annual Stigma Symposium. This year’s theme is “Eliminating Stigma: Moving Toward Community Inclusion and Beyond, Part 2.”

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at Mountain Valley High School. Speakers from across the state will meet with participants to discuss what needs to be done in order to better educate the community at large about how stigma affects people and the barriers it creates

The symposium is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be served.

The Consumer Council System of Maine is a vehicle for consumers of mental health services to give advice and make positive changes from the inside out to Maine’s mental health system.

The keynote speaker will be Ronald Welch, former director of the office of Adult Mental Health Services.

Provider agencies and other related organizations are invited to set up information displays. Tables are available for this activity.

For more information or help with transportation, call Dorie Oakes at 357-4075 or 364-7108, or Vickie McCarty at 1-877-207-5056.

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