Community Healthcare System breaks the stigma around mental health at Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Symposium

Community Healthcare System breaks the stigma around mental health at Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Symposium

Mental health is hard to talk about, especially when something is wrong. Many find themselves embarrassed or ashamed, others stay quiet and shut people out. On Wednesday, Community Healthcare System hosted the "Healthy Mind, Healthy Body" Symposium, an evening dedicated to breaking the stigma around discussing mental health.

The event, drawing more than 100 people, was the first large scale symposium hosted by the healthcare system's Behavioral Health Services focusing on mental health. Hosted The Center for The Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, four different speakers addressed mental health, different treatments, and drew connections between body and mental health.

“We’re reaching out to the community to let them know that it’s ok to say ‘I’m depressed, I’m anxious’ and it’s okay to seek help,” said Jennifer Jimenez, Psych-Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner with Behavioral Health Services, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago. “There’s absolutely a stigma. When people feel depressed, they often don’t want to admit it. They don’t want to talk about it or let other people know something is going on.”

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Jimenez noted that many people are often high functioning, but with mental health problems can lead to losing a job, dropping out of school, or worse. Breaking that stigma and that silence is the first step to getting mentally healthy, and lets you access the networks of support available throughout the Northwest Indiana.

“Mental health is an issue that touches everybody at some point in their lives, and it’s never just mental,” said Marie Macke, System Director for Behavioral Health Service at Community Healthcare Services. The program, based at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, helps adults and older adults regain control of their lives one step at a time through acute inpatient care and intensive outpatient care in a supportive environment. “Oftentimes they have physical disabilities or diseases and that’s a stressful time, so it relates hand in hand with mental health. We want people to know that we could all use help at some point, we all have dark days and it’s not something to be ashamed of. We do have the resources out here to help.”

Behavioral Health Services' clinical team serving includes psychiatrists, medical doctors, registered nurses, licensed clinical social workers and therapists.

Becca Adduci, one of the evening’s speakers, is one of those resources. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with more than 15 years of experience in clinical settings. Adduci is an expert in mindfulness meditation, a type of meditation that centers on absorbing the present moment. It usually involves measured breathing and mental imagery. Adduci mastered the technique in order to conquer her own stress and anxiety.

“People say ‘isn’t every therapist or psychiatrist a little bit crazy?’ well, I think everyone is at least a little bit crazy, a little bit weird,” Adduci said. “Me coming up here and saying all of this is just wanting to own my 20 years of saying ‘I’m a therapist, this is what I do,’ because we’re going to eradicate that stigma [around mental health], which is something I feel very strongly about.”

One speaker detailed organizations like the National Alliance On Mental Illness, which offers classes and training for people living with mental illnesses or seeking information to help friends and loved ones. Another explained how Reiki, a unique method of hands-on healing that reduces stress and anxiety, and breathing techniques can help mental health. Attendees also met with vendors representing a number of mental health advocates around the area.

“The stuff that we’re talking about today applies across the board, to all walks of life,” Macke said. “That’s why we think this event is so important.”

To learn more about Behavioral Health Services, visit or call (219)-392-7466 to make a referral or schedule a confidential consultation.