Vinfen attended and participated in the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) Southeast Area Citizens Legislative Breakfast on February 8. The event was held at the Massachusetts State House where members of the mental health community met with their legislators, networked, and shared their lived experiences and recovery stories. This year’s theme was “Unmasking the Stigma of Mental Health Together.”
Area Director Howard Baker-Smith welcomed guest. Fellowship Health Resources Northeast Director of Peer Recovery Services Robert Ortiz and Southeast Area Citizen Board President and Plymouth Citizen Board Member John Bove were the event’s co-hosts, and they introduced the rest of the speakers. DMH Commissioner Joan Mikula discussed the state budget and how it recognizes the importance of peer support, acknowledges substance misuse, and the need for rental assistance. State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representative were recognized for their support to people with psychiatric conditions.
One of the guest speakers who shared their own recovery stories was Vinfen Recovery Coordinator Sherry Hammel. Sherry recounted how DMH and Vinfen played a vital role in her recovery. “Thank you legislators and DMH for providing me access to services. You have made my recovery possible,” said Sherry Hammel. “At Vinfen, I was welcomed. I was treated with respect and kindness, no shame or guilt. I learned coping skills to deal with my life. I began to believe that yes, I do matter.”