Community members are invited to 'Ask the Expert' this Thursday in Brewer about a variety of mental health issues, and how 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 Thursday hopes to spread the word about the realities of mental illness and also give educators, employers, and others some tools and fresh ideas for dealing with those affected.

Once again this 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.

This year's conference is sponsored, in part, by Black Bears for Recovery, a group that works to connect college students in recovery to each other, so they can form a local support system. There will also be representatives of Young People in Recovery, or YPR Brewer, which helps young people navigate the recovery process, from deciding to enter recovery, to starting life over without substance use. In addition, YPR does a lot of outreach, going into schools and talking to children.

The Mental Health Awareness Conference will be held Thursday, August 23rd, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Machias Savings Bank, 581 Wilson Street in Brewer. To pre-register, email brewerme@youngpeopleinrecovery.org. There's no charge, but organizers ask that participants bring donations of hygiene products for people in need in our community.