Greenfield mental health fair aims to increase awareness, support
Recorder/Paul Franz People dance to music during the Mental Health and Wellness Fair at the Energy Park in Greenfield on Wednesday. Purchase photo reprints »
GREENFIELD — Mental health providers who gathered for four-plus hours in Energy Park said events like Wednesday’s Mental Health and Wellness Fair are necessary to reverse negative connotations and stigmas some have about mental illness.
It was the 11th annual fair, and 10th at the Energy Park, said John Semon, director of the Green River Clubhouse. The organization, which assists people accomplish their goals by involving them in the running of the clubhouse, spearheads the planning of the event beginning each January. The fair coincides with Mental Health Month.
“We felt that there was a need to educate the community about not only the services available but how courageous people recover their lives,” said Semon. “There’s a lot of avenues to recovery and really, people should have a choice in their lives ... (how to) recover.”
About 30 of the community’s mental health providers stood at tables throughout the park — providing information on their programs to future participants or interested passersby — while 20 vendors sold plants, crafts and food and live bands performed on stage.
The Recover Project — which provides peer-to-peer support for recovery from alcohol and drug addiction — organized a “flash mob” at 12:30 p.m., where participants all over the park simultaneously broke into dance at the same time.
Celina Borgos has been a Recover Project peer member and volunteer off and on for the past 10 years. At a tent on the north side of the park, she told people about Reiki — a Japanese form of alternate medicine that promotes healing and relaxation — and offered 15-minute demonstrations.
“I just think (the fair) is an opportunity for people to see different ways, techniques and things they can use to incorporate in their lives,” she said, “... (to be) able to give somebody an option and an alternative to different solutions to whatever they’re dealing with in life.”
At the ServiceNet tent, 22-year-old Greenfield residents Ashley Fortin and William Melchiorre were both hoping for a chance to perform something on stage later that afternoon.
Emily Thomas, one of ServiceNet’s outreach workers, said that the organization was promoting its Transitional-Age Youth program at the fair. It’s a person-centered program where organizers help individuals from 18 to 25 sit “in the driver’s seat” to achieve their customized goal set.
“I really appreciate events like this because it kind of normalizes (mental illness),” she said. “All of these people here are obviously not ashamed of it, because there’s nothing wrong.”
You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264