On May 18th, Free Community Mental Health & Wellness Fair for Older Adults at Oak Park Township Open house to provide evaluations for seniors from Oak Park and River Forest.

Anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns affect an estimated 20 percent of people aged 55 or older. Yet fewer than 3 percent of older adults seek help for those conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Psychological Association.

On Friday, May 18th, local mental wellness advocates will be working to close that significant gap by offering free evaluations to Oak Parkers and River Foresters at the Oak Park Township Senior Services building, 130 S. Oak Park Ave.

From 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Free Community Mental Health and Wellness Fair will have an “open house” format. Privacy and confidentiality will be assured, said Lisa DeVivo, executive director of the Community Mental Health Board of Oak Park.

“By providing screenings in a familiar and comfortable setting, with immediate access to a therapist, we believe we can increase the number of seniors getting the help they need,” said DeVivo.

Therapists from Thrive Counseling Center will be on hand to answer questions and offer guidance to individuals after they complete a brief questionnaire about their mental wellness.

Information will also be available regarding the variety of programs and services available in the community related to seniors and mental health. Tours of the Senior Services building, as well as light refreshments, will be provided. Seniors are welcome to stay and dine in the senior lunch program, starting at 11:30 a.m., at a cost of $1.50.

Oak Park and River Forest Townships pool their resources in funding and directing the delivery of essential human services in the areas of youth, seniors, mental health and general assistance.

River Forest Township Supervisor Carla Sloan said the event “highlights our commitment to looking out for everyone’s mental health.”

“Too often in our society, older adults get overlooked,” Sloan added. “This stage of life can present tremendously positive opportunities, but it’s also true that seniors are often experiencing loss and difficult transition. It’s important that they know where to turn for help.”

The Oak Park Community Mental Health Board, River Forest Township, Township Senior Services and Concordia University are sponsoring the outreach.

The event is being held in conjunction with National Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The agency is within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

For the May 18th open house, refreshments will be provided; in addition, everyone who completes an evaluation will be eligible for drawings with prizes that include four $25 gift cards.

For more information, contact supervisor@riverforesttownship.org or 708-366-2029. Or, contact the Community Mental Health Board at 708-358-8855.

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