GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — ECU hosted its 11th annual Mental Health Expo on Tuesday, the first one since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dozens of organizations took part and provided information to help the community learn about local mental health and substance abuse resources.

ECU Health official stresses importance of good mental health

Among the presentations included: “Mind Over Matter” Using Mindfulness to Assist with Treatment of Depression and Anxiety, “Lay Responder Naloxone Training: When and How to use NARCAN Nasal Spray” and “Human Trafficking: Building Protective Factors for Prevention and Resiliency.”

Those with ECU Health said they invited thousands to the event and that they were ready to help anyone looking for resources.

“Mental health is health, and that it’s OK to reach out and ask for help, talk to somebody, don’t keep it inside,” said Glenn Simpson with ECU Health.

People who gathered at the East Carolina Heart Institute learned more about mental health and substance use resources in the area. Simpson said mental health can be a touchy subject.

“We have over 48 exhibitors and agencies right here from Eastern North Carolina that specialize in behavior health, so folks can learn, and talk and ask questions,” Simpson said. “A lot of times mental health is kind of a heavy topic, but there is hope, treatment often does work. Treatment is often available and it’s just really a chance to give hope and encouragement to others.”

Vendors said they’re just there to help and give people a place to start.

“We have a lot about ACEs, adverse childhood experiences, building resiliency, healthy coping skills, ways to talk to your teens about conversation openers,” said Pitt County Coalition on Substance Use Executive Director Lillie Malpass.

Community members said events like this are needed in the area.

“I’m learning how to cope with it a little bit more because when I come out here and I see everybody else going through the same things I’m going through, it lets me know that they are not alone,” said Tiesha Hill, who attended Tuesday’s event.

Because nobody is alone.

“What we need to do with our loved ones and friends and everything is kind of reach out, be able to talk about it and hopefully through some of our work, we’ll destigmatize, because people still say mental illness and people sometimes go ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about that, but we can’t really help people unless we do talk about it, so just the communication to help destigmatize is a real plus for us,” Simpson said.

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