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Date: Tue, Sep 7th, 2021

Stop the Stigma Week will focus on rejuvenating mind, body and spirit

Stop the Stigma Week, Sept. 17-26, will address mental health, addiction issues. Great Falls College will be the host for four events.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – Great Falls College is pleased to be a host again for Stop the Stigma Week, Sept. 17-26, as the college is committed to playing a leading role in helping the community stop stigmas associated with addictive disorders and mental health issues.

This year’s focus will be on rejuvenating mind body and spirit, said Dr. Elfie Neber, a behavioral science faculty member at Great Falls College and one of the event organizers.

Four of the events will be on campus at Heritage Hall.

“Great Falls College is so pleased to be able to hold so many of these events on our campus again,” said Dr. Elfie Neber, a behavioral science faculty member at Great Falls College and one of the event organizers. “Nobody is exempt from these struggles, and we are so pleased to be able to help offer the community tools that will help one another come together and address these issues.”

Perhaps the time has never been more ripe for Stop the Stigma Week, a robust series of events aimed at curtailing stigmas associated with addictive disorders and mental health issues.

“Over the past year and a half, the world has been dealing with a pandemic and global strife, and we as individuals have had to re-evaluate, work harder and longer, all while isolating ourselves,” said Tiffany Sweeney, chair of the Central Montana Out of the Darkness Walk and a Stop the Stigma Week coordinator. “It has taken a toll on our mind, body, and soul; it's time to bounce back in a positive and healthy way to rejuvenate our resilient selves.”

Stop the Stigma Week 2021 is offered free to the public.

Many sessions will be offered virtually, recorded and shared on the Alliance for Youth YouTube channel following the week of events. Certificates of attendance will be provided to attendees the week following the events for continuing education unit purposes.

“Many people see those who struggle with addiction and mental illness as burdens to be managed instead of underinvested in assets,” said Thomas Risberg, event coordinator for Stop the Stigma Week and Sober Life project director. “Stop the Stigma Week is important because it shows our community that people who struggle with addiction and mental illness are talented, compassionate and hard-working people who contribute to our community.”

Stop the Stigma Week is in its fifth year.

"Stop the Stigma continues to grow in magnitude, addressing topics that impact each of us as members of our community,” said Jamie Marshall, event coordinator and board member of the Dandelion Foundation. “This year offers a variety of events that include opportunities for people of all ages to learn from and contribute to. Topics of mental health and addiction can be difficult to discuss and at times daunting to address -- this week offers a hopeful and action-oriented lens, knowing that when we as individuals join together as a community to work for change and improvement, the impact is powerful and positive."

Sponsors are Alliance For Youth, Alluvion Health, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Benefis Health System, Great Falls College MSU, Great Falls Public Schools, The Dandelion Foundation and The Sober Life.

Many of the events are at Heritage Hall on Great Falls College MSU’s campus.

The line-up for the week is as follows:

Friday, Sept. 17, West Bank Park, 4:30 p.m.: The Sober Life Recovery Run celebrates recovery, supports those who are struggling and honors those we have lost. The 10K will start at 5 p.m., the 5K at 5:15 p.m. and the 3K at 5:30 p.m. Free food, music and family-friendly games and activities will be available throughout the event. All race participants will receive a free Recovery Run T-Shirt.

Tuesday, Sept. 21, Great Falls College’s Heritage Hall, 6-7:30 p.m.: Tales to Sobriety will be a powerful open mic night where individuals in recovery will share their journeys out of addiction and into sobriety.

Wednesday, Sept. 22, Great Falls College’s Heritage Hall, 4:30 to 6:15 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Technology will be at the fore, with an airing of the The Social Dilemma documentary in the first time slot followed by a brief intermission and a panel discussion for those who are concerned about how technology is influencing family life.

Thursday, Sept. 23, Great Falls College’s Heritage Hall, 12:15 to 2:15 p.m.: Dr. Jordan Quaglia and Charlotte Rotterdam, will speak about loneliness and compassionate resilience and tools for self-compassion. Educators work hard to care for the well-being of others, but they commonly report difficulties extending themselves the same kind of care. Renewable credits for the Office of Public Instruction are available for those who attend.

Thursday, Sept. 23, Great Falls College’s Heritage Hall, 6 to 8 p.m.: Quaglia and Rotterdam will give a talk considering scientific research on both loneliness and compassion, with particular emphasis on how compassion can help foster more genuine connection in modern life.

Friday, Sept. 24, Alliance for Youth’s gathering Hall, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Positive Psychology: Learn it Practice it! Do It! Continuing Education Units are available for mental health clinicians who attend.

Sunday, Sept. 26, Paris Gibson Park, noon check-in and registration with the walk beginning at 1 p.m.: Central Montana Out of Darkness’ walk to raise hope, awareness and funds to support suicide prevention, awareness, education and advocacy at noon at Paris Gibson Park.

Most events are available in person and via Zoom. Go to the Stop the Stigma website, www.alliancefoyouth.org/stop-the-stigma, or the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/stopthestigma406, for more information and details on how to register.

Contact:

Scott Thompson, Great Falls College marketing and communications director, 406-771-4314, scott.thompson@gfcmsu.edu

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