In the prior Affordable Care Act that Congress is working to repeal and replace, mental health services was one of ten Essential Health Benefits, similar to maternity care and prescription drugs, that Health Insurance plans were mandated to cover. In the alternate laws proposed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, mental health coverage is, at best, left as an option to which the cash-strapped states must determine if they are willing to dedicate some of their limited funds.
Under the theme “Celebrate Mental Health…while we still got it”, Mental Health Peer Connection (MHPC) is offering a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak forecast by inviting the public to a “Kite Festival Celebrating Mental Health”, including free hot dogs – for which no government funds will be expended. The activity is to take place from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturday September 16, 2017, at Gratwick Riverside Park on River Road, northwest of Ward Road in North Tonawanda.
Intending it as a fun activity for the whole family, in addition to the hot dogs, the organizers invite participants to bring a dish of food to pass. Attendees are encouraged to supply their own kites, or, standard basic kites will be available. More information is available by calling Shannon at (716) 836-0822, extension 170.
MHPC Director Maura Kelley said, “In light of the lack of importance accorded to mental health services by both houses of Congress, they are, in essence, telling citizens with mental illnesses that they ‘might as well just go and fly a kite’! We are putting an upbeat interpretation on the idea by holding a Kite Festival in which members of the public have the opportunity to meet individuals with mental health concerns and learn how much like them that our populace is.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states on their webpage “Mental Health Myths and Facts”, that “Mental Health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue.” They add, “Many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.”
Mental Health PEER Connection is a member of the Western New York Independent Living, Inc. family of agencies that offer an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.