The thing is at Erasing the Distance, we think being prepared is about more than making sure we have created thoughtful, well attended, and compelling performances. It is more than being able to provide our audiences with mental health resources.
We need to be able to create an environment where courageous communication about mental health and mental illness can take place. To do that, we need to know what we are talking about! And we need our actors to understand the topics addressed in our scripts too. This is why mental health trainings have always been one of the most important ways in which we have prepared ourselves. So naturally, it is a part of our preparation now.
Tomorrow we will have a 4-hour mental health training for staff and ensemble members covering many of the topics we will be exploring in depth this fall. Three mental health professionals from three local organizations will be sharing their knowledge with us over the course of the day.
First Zak Mucha, who works with the Assertive Community Treatment Program, will teach us about the links between PTSD and self-harm, and the best ways to respond to such behaviors.
Next Meghan Llanes, from Rainbow House, will lead a training on sexual and domestic violence and the impact of these forms of abuse.
Finally Jae Jin Pak, from C4, will lead a suicide prevention workshop. Through discussion and role-play, he will address warning signs and risk factors, how to respond to someone you believe might be at risk, and protective factors.
While the subject matter may seem heavy, I am excited to arm myself with more knowledge and insight into these matters. I am excited that our dedicated ensemble members are volunteering a Saturday afternoon to do so as well. I know that days like tomorrow are a big part of the success of our organization, and I want to thank all the people who have helped us to make these trainings happen.
Have a wonderful weekend...and try to learn something new :)