WHERE TO WATCH You can catch “From Stigma to Strength: Keeping You and Your Mind Well” on Methuen’s Government Channels, Comcast 8 and Verizon 32, beginning on Friday, May 3 or streaming on MethuenTV.org. New episodes will premiere each Friday for the month of May at 8pm. Rebroadcasts can be seen Sundays at 4pm and Wednesdays at 10:30am. 

Local organizations are taking on a nationwide problem. With approximately 40 million American adults impacted by anxiety disorders each year, that diagnosis just begins to scratch the surface. Mood, psyche, memory and eating-pattern issues all join that list to add to an estimated 19.86% of Americans over age 18 who are experiencing some form of mental illness. Yet, many feel they are alone in their situation.  

Methuen Government Television and the Methuen Mental Health Task Force are working together to let people know that they are far from companionless.

“I think people are given the impression that they have to hide mental issues, that it is some sort of stigma on themselves or on their families,” says Methuen Government Television producer Carol Ann Rousseau. “We are working on a five-part series of programs with the Methuen Health Task Force to let people know that there is help out there, and most importantly that they do not have to feel embarrassed, or any of the other emotions that people often say go with mental illness. From there, we hope to continue the series in the future.”

The first five-parts of the series, titled “From Stigma to Strength: Keeping You and Your Mind Well” will air during the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, with a new episode debuting every Friday at 8pm. Program host Nancy Reardon will be joined by members of the Methuen school, police and fire departments. Representatives from Nevins Library, Methuen Activity Center, Recreation Department and local arts groups will join in on their own episodes to focus on situations that they experience on a regular basis. 

Each one-hour episode will take on a different topic geared for the department’s specialty. Topics will include police therapeutic response, hoarding and depression, as well as senior and student mental health.

The series idea came from an episode of the current MGTV series, “Behind the Blue Lens,” a program produced in conjunction with the Methuen Police Department. A conversation during a program pre-production meeting led producers and hosts to realize that they could only begin to scratch the surface in those 60 minutes.

“I think we all know people who struggle with mental health, whether they admit it or not,” Rousseau says, “and as an outsider, we don’t always know how to deal with those situations. That’s what the goal of this show is, to not only help a person with a mental-health crisis but also what their loved ones, friends and family can do to help them get the help they need.”

When Carol Ann and Nancy began talking about their idea to others, the offers to help came flooding in. Methuen’s Mental Health Task Force stepped forward to assist with topics and guests.

“The show idea may have started in the walls of MGTV, but working with the Task Force has opened up a lot of ideas that will help people of all ages, genders and finances here in the city,” Rousseau says. “There seems to be a negative association with the words ‘mental health,’ and it’s displayed as a weakness, so people are afraid to reach out for help. This show is meant to let people know they are not alone and there is help for them and their loved ones.” 

 

In the five-part series “From Stigma to Strength,” Methuen Government Television is discussing the mental-health crisis, its impact here and available resources. On one episode, (from left) host Nancy Reardon interviewed Senior Center Executive Director Ashley Sheehan, Public Health Nurse Karen Ferullo and Pandemic Recovery and Mitigation Coordinator Kelly Townsend. Courtesy photo