“Change is the only constant in life,” Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 2500 years ago. There are reasons why this insight remains oft-repeated to this day.
Perhaps look to our own backyard, downtown Manchester, to see the truth of Heraclitus’s words. Manchester’s economy has historically been in flux: the Queen City thrived in the 19th century, suffered a great deal in the 20th century, and has boomed since the 1990s. In 2015, the Huffington Post called our city “a hotbed of innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and hospitality.” It is easy to understand how Manchester residents in the first half of the 20th century captured the essence of the Queen City’s spirit by referring to their home as “The City That Never Dies.”
We can also consider how The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (MHCGM) has changed with the times. Did you know that MHCGM opened its doors in 1960 as the Community Guidance Center, serving only children and their families? Over the past half-century, we’ve expanded from one program in one building to about 40 programs spread across 7 buildings with over 400 staff.
The Center continues to launch innovative initiatives. Our Mobile Crisis Response Team began to serve the Greater Manchester community in 2017 by making urgent house calls and providing care which can divert emergency room visits. This summer, we will launch an Intensive Transitions Team which will integrate connection with primary care and social services for folks who transition out of acute care.
Change and innovation do not stop with our clinical practices. For the first time in the 9-year history of the Lite Up the Nite 5K for Mental Health, we will be holding our race at Manchester’s Livingston Park.
Unlike our old course at the Derryfield Park, the Livingston Park offers a flat route which is more accessible for those of us who struggle to climb sharp inclines or walk down steep hills. Moreover, two laps around Dorrs Pond will enable participants to experience a diversified nature walk/run experience and take in the sights and sounds of pond life.
In some ways, our departure from Derryfield Park can be considered symbolic. We have been working for decades to destigmatize mental illness and we are beginning to see small victories in normalizing discussions of mental health.
Perhaps, our fight to destigmatize mental illness is no longer an uphill battle. We are reaching a turning point in our time where talking about mental illness is becoming increasingly less stigmatized, thanks to many voices working to normalize such conversations.
We have not yet reached a point where we can compare talking about mental illness to a walk in the park, or, as it is, a lap around a pond. There is still much work to be done to normalize discussions of mental health for people from all neighborhoods, professions and cultures.
Perhaps we will have the privilege of seeing a day in our lifetimes where mental illness is not stigmatized and we can freely discuss mental health without fear of judgement. There are enough voices speaking out now that perhaps we will look back on this time as an era of major change and success for mental health equity.
For the time being, we can feel heartened by progress because we know that our efforts are creating real impact.
Heraclitus’s wisdom helps us to remember that change is the only constant—and we can feel assured that we are propelling that change in a positive direction.
Please join us as we Lite Up the Nite for Mental Health at Livingston Park on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at 4:30 pm.