RUMFORD — A Rumford resident is working with the Maine Consumer Council to hold a peaceful Mental Health Awareness Rally on Thursday, May 1, outside the Rumford Town Office. May 1 is Mental Health Awareness Day.

The rally will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“To all my peers who are so supportive in this, I would like everyone to know, this is a peaceful rally,” Heather Mae Conley said last week via Facebook.

“And we ask that it stay peaceful, as we are trying to help put awareness out there for all, and we will not be singling anyone out. We are all equal, and we are rallying for our voices to be heard. Positive voices, not rude, negative voices.”

Conley said Wednesday via Facebook that she decided to hold the rally to educate people about mental health issues and how to find help. She also wants Rumford to pass a law to make it mandatory for any public official who works hands-on with mental health issues to receive the proper training.

“I lost a good friend in 1992 to suicide, and I, myself, suffer from mental health issues, as does my husband and lots of family and friends,” Conley said.


“I think there needs to be more people educated about it, in hopes of finding new ways to deal with major situations, such as suicide and manic breakdowns, and to let people suffering from mental health issues know there is help.

“So many go untreated for many reasons, and they need to know they’re not alone, and there is help,” she said. “We need to stand together to spread the message. The more who stand together, the better chance of us being heard.”

She said her rally isn’t just directed at police, who often deal with people with mental health problems, sometimes with tragic results. Conley said, “I’m saying the whole community needs to stand together. I am not singling out anyone or any group of people by any means. I hope many attend. We welcome everyone.”

Few people clearly understand that they may have a mental health problem, she said.

“Not many people realize it, but there are many people who are scared to admit they might need a little help or that they have a mental health issue,” Conley said. “And it is not OK for those people to feel that way.

“They should know they can get help, and they aren’t alone,” she said. “Millions suffer with a mental health issue of some kind.”


Budgets often prevent county and municipal officials from seeking training. Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant said Wednesday by email that he has had deputies trained through the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine.

“I have few trained, but it is a 40-hour course, and budgets just don’t allow training everyone,” Gallant said. “That’s sad.”

AUBURN —  On Mental Health Awareness Day on Thursday, May 1, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine will hold a presentation on Suicide Prevention and Awareness in Auburn.

It will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch at 14 Great Falls Plaza.

According to NAMI Maine’s website, the presentation is intended to develop suicide prevention awareness in a general audience.


This training will provide general and basic information on suicide with resources available for further training — including materials produced by the Maine Suicide Prevention and NAMI Maine, the website states.

“Learn what you can do to help,” documentation for the presentation states. “It’s up to all of us.”

For more information about the Auburn presentation, contact Shelley O’Brian at 622-5767 ext. 318 or

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