Mental Health Awareness Walk to feature speech by Josh Bramble

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    By Lisa Scott
    Special to The PREVIEW
    Josh Bramble will be the keynote speaker at the Mental Health Awareness Walk on Saturday, April 13. “A Life Transformed: From At-Risk Youth to Helping Youth at Risk” is the topic of his speech.
    Bramble is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and has been on staff at Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) as a LPC behavioral health specialist since February 2014. He provided contract work to the hospital starting in 2008 and was in private practice as a family and youth counselor since 1999. He obtained his master’s degree in school and community counseling from Adams State University in 2001. He has seen first hand the variety of mental health issues that face the citizens of all ages in Archuleta County.
    “P.S. It’s okay (to talk about it)” is the slogan for this inaugural event. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. in Town Park, and the first 50 participants will receive a “P.S. It’s Okay” T-shirt. The walk will commence at 10 a.m. from Town Park and end at the high school, where information and resource booths will be set up. Bramble will speak in the auditorium of the high school at approximately 11 a.m. The mission of the event is to compassionately bring awareness to mental health to improve communication, openness and awareness to support individual and community needs.
    “We created the walk to be short and sweet and to emphasize that it’s OK to talk about mental health issues,” said Sarah Ross, senior at Pagosa Springs High School (PSHS), who created this community service project after seeing the event in Telluride.
    Ross’ Youth Rise teacher, Cheryl Bowdridge, helped Ross and her friend Diana Scott take the initial steps toward planning the event.
    Bowdridge introduced the young ladies to the Archuleta County Suicide Awareness Collaborative Group, a group of concerned citizens working with a state-funded initiative to raise awareness about suicide in our community. The Collaborative Group offered to sponsor the event.
    The event logo, as seen on the posters and T-shirts, is a representation of growth on the subject of mental health and was designed by Ethan Brown, artist and former PSHS student. The roots of the tree take up a large portion of the tree, showing how buried mental health is and that it is rooted in our society: out of sight, out of mind. The tree trunk represents the issue being brought to the surface, harder to confront and the various stages of growth with knowledge of the issues. As more light is shed onto the subject, positive growth occurs, leaves bloom, and the tree continues to grow.
    Ross commented, “By confronting the issue of mental health, we can grow to find ways to help those in need.”
    This event is also a great way to get information and show support for the various nonprofit organizations that support mental health and other human service issues in the county. Information booths at the event will be Axis Mental Health, PSMC, Rise Above Violence, San Juan Basin Public Health, veteran’s mental health and the Youth Rise elective class at PSHS, among others. This walk is intended to show the support and love around the subject of mental health and provide a venue to learn more about the support that is available in the community.
    The walk route will depart Town Park at 10 a.m., walk along the sidewalks of San Juan Street, cross U.S. 160 at the courthouse, come back on the other side of San Juan Street along the shops, cross U.S. 160 again at the corner of Goodman’s Store and continue walking along Hot Springs Boulevard all the way to the high school.
    If you would like to support mental health awareness and these students, please come walk with us on April 13. If you aren’t up for walking but want to show your support, meet us at the high school to visit the community booths and listen to Bramble give his uplifting talk. For more information, contact Bowdridge at 946-5276.