Gig Harbor church to hold free mental health seminar series

As mental health care becomes a topic of national debate, a Gig Harbor church has invited local leaders and professionals to speak on the issue this month at series of community forums.

The events are free and open to the public and will be held at Gig Harbor United Methodist Church, 7400 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor.

“Our church’s Administrative Board gave our church the task to ‘educate ourselves regarding the issue of mental health, including developing an awareness of resources and how to become more open toward individuals who may be experiencing a mental illness,’” according to a church news release. “This is a timely charge given the mental health crises we are currently experiencing as a community and as a nation due to the impact on citizens by issues related to mental illness, substance abuse, including the opioid crisis, and the associated costs both in terms of dollars as well as human suffering and loss of life.”

According to the National Institute of Health, in any given year about one in five people have a diagnosable mental disorder. One in 22 people have a severe mental illness, according to the press release.

All events begin at 6:30 p.m. and include dessert.

Schedule of Events:

Oct. 10 — County Councilman Derek Young will discuss the current state of mental health service in Pierce County. Participants can learn about what is available and how to advocate for better services.

Oct. 17 — Licensed mental health counselor Joe Contris will discuss mood disorders, how to recognize depression and how to approach people contemplating suicide. Contris is the Associate Director for Optum Pierce Behavioral Health Organization, which operates the Behavioral Health provider network for Pierce County.

Oct. 24 — A panel of experts from Olalla Recovery Center and Gig Harbor Counseling will discuss issues of substance abuse. Information about resources offered at the state level also will be presented by representatives from the Division of Social and Health Services.