Friday, November 20, 2009

ETD hosts our first Mental Health Advisory Board Meeting

This Monday Erasing the Distance held our first ever Mental Health Advisory Board (MHAB) meeting! The board members are the newest addition to the ETD family, and we are so excited to have them.

As an arts organization dealing with the sensitive topic of mental illness, we felt it was important to organize a group of advisors who are experts in the field. With their help, we can be sure that our shows are carried out ethically, responsibly, and accurately and that the information we give people is up to date and correct.

Our new board members are:

Kelli Brooks (Executive Director of the Lake County Center for Independent Living)

Virginia Goldrick, LCPC, Ph.D., C.R.S.S (pictured)

John Mayes, LCSW

Erin Mason, Ph.D.

Selina McGuire, M.S.

Fred Miller, Ph.D. (pictured)

Jamie Pasquale, Psy.D. (pictured)

Julia Rahn, Ph.D.

Michael Russell, LCSW

Lisa Sniderman, LCSW
The meeting began with an ice breaking exercise, allowing everyone to get to know each other. ETD uses interviews to collect the material for our plays, so we felt it would be fitting to use the same method to learn about each other. Everyone paired up, and spent some time interviewing one another, then we all introduced our partners to the group. We were thrilled to see that the conversations flowed easily, and everyone seemed surprised to to learn the interview time was up.

After the game, we all sat down for a delicious meal and Brighid (our Executive Artistic Director) filled everyone in on ETD's history, and the services we provide to schools, places of worship, hospitals, and other community groups.
The highlight of the evening was a special performance of excerpts from our plays for the new board members, several of whom had not seen one of our shows in the past.

Ensemble members Remy Ortiz, Amanda Eaton, and Chris Hauser came out and performed the roles of Jaron (who struggles with substance use and depression), Rose (living with type II Bipolar and coping with self injury) and Keith (who uses humor to help ease the pain of living with severe OCD).

(Above Right) Chris Hauser portrays Keith, a college student living with OCD for our advisory board and staff. (Below Right) Remy Ortiz performs the Jaron story while Amanda Eaton prepares to go onstage.

After the performances the board gave us their feedback from a professional point of view. It was interesting to see the stories from the perspective of a mental health professional, and encouraging to hear such positive feedback from such an impressive group.

We wrapped up the meeting by discussing ideas, expectations, and goals for the role of the advisory board in our Organization. Lisa Sniderman shared that she felt inspired and energized by the meeting, and Julia Rahn expressed a desire to dive in and start taking on an active role in helping Erasing the Distance shed light on mental illness. All in all the evening was a great success, and left everyone at Erasing the Distance feeling excited and proud to have such a wonderful new board of advisors in the ETD family.

Have a happy weekend! -Jessica

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