Community members are invited to 'Ask the Expert' this Saturday in Brewer about mental health issues, in an effort to 'Stop the Stigma.'

Mental health issues are often treated much differently than physical ailments. For instance, you don't tell someone with the flu to just 'get over it,' but might tell someone who is depressed to 'cheer up.' And often that stigma makes life challenging in everything from classrooms to offices, which can lead to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, or even suicide. So a conference in Brewer this weekend hopes to spread the word about the realities of mental illness and also give those educators and others some tools and fresh ideas for dealing with those affected.

For the 4th consecutive year, Dr. Thomas Jenson, M.D., Medical Director for the International Bipolar Foundation will address a variety of topics at this interactive conference. Consumers, caretakers, mental health professionals, educators, and community members are invited to take part and bring their questions with them.

"Last year we talked about bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia, a whole host of topics," Dr. Jensen told us this week. He said he's open to discussing all of these and other topics and hopes community members will attend.

This year's conference will also include a representative from Young People in Recovery, or YPR, who will answer questions about the movement. The national organization, through local chapters, helps its members to begin their lives after addiction, through stable employment, suitable housing, and education.

The Mental Health Awareness Conference will be held Saturday, October 1st from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Brewer High School, 79 Parkway South in Brewer. Doors open at 8:30 for check-in and breakfast. For more information or to register, call Tammy at 299-6855 or Kayla at 825-4108. There's no charge for the conference but donations will be accepted to benefit Young People in Recovery.