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Next week, on Wedsnesday, Oct. 29, my nonprofit organization — Teenage Anxiety and Depression Solutions (TADS) — is going to try something new. We are going to start a community conversation on mental health.

Now, we don’t want to start THE conversation — something that will dominate our consciousness for a day or a week or a month. We want to start A conversation.

We want to start a conversation about mental health — an enduring conversation about mental health. We want people to be okay with talking about this topic — we want it to become part of our public discourse.

There are three reasons I can think of why this is important — but I am sure there are more — these are just three ideas off the top of my head.

1. Crowdsourcing — Mental illness is a public health problem and we need more people talking and thinking about it to help solve this terrible problem that has emerged.

2. Stigma — Because this topic is treated as a shame, people in need of treatment may be reluctant to get the care they need. We need to bring this topic out of the shadows and remove the shame associated with it

3. Ignorance — Because we don’t talk about this issue, potential consumers of mental health care remain largely ignorant of it. Therefore, when people realize they need treatment, or a loved one needs treatment, they have no idea how to go about getting that treatment. Making this topic an acceptable topic of conversation will allow all of us to become better educated consumers of mental health treatment.

We’re going to start this conversation with an event that we’re calling “A Roundtable Discussion on Mental Health in Groton-Dunstable” and it’s going to take place in the Black Box Theater in Groton-Dunstable Regional High School on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. We’re inviting 18 community leaders to participate on a panel. The panel will consist of people on the “front lines” of mental health issues: school personnel, police, EMTs, clergy, mental health professionals, a pediatrician, and a rep from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) — all members of the Groton-Dunstable community. And we’re hoping to draw a good-sized audience.

I’m asking for your support in this endeavor.

If you live in Groton-Dunstable — please consider attending this event.

If you live in a neighboring community — consider attending. Perhaps we can start a similar conversation in your community.

If you live too far away to join us, please send us your loving thoughts … and perhaps start such a conversation in your own community.

We need to do this.

If not now, when?

If not us, who?

Steve Boczenowski

President and founder

Teenage Anxiety and Depression Solutions (TADS)

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