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Mental Health Authority to hold events | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez
Rebekah Duhaime, executive assistant at Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority, works at her desk on Friday with Mental Health Movement cups close by as she prepares for the event. The Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority is hosting multiple events at different locations to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

ALPENA — The Northeast Michigan Community Mental Health Authority is hosting multiple events at different locations, including a Mental Health Movement, blood drives, and more to observe May as Mental Health Awareness Month, something the United States has followed since 1949, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Mary Crittenden, chief operations officer with the Mental Health Authority, said the month’s events were started internally as Mental Health Authority Executive Director Nena Sork reminded staff about the month and the hard work everyone does around the community.

“Our staff is so dedicated to the work that they do, so a lot of times they don’t pause or take a moment to really look at the impact they have on the lives they serve,” Crittenden said. “Nena’s really good about helping them pause and take in how powerful our work is.”

According to an annual report from the Mental Health Authority that oversees the results from the beginning of October 2022 to the end of September 2023, 2,249 people received services from the organization and it also gained more than $40 million in revenue.

Throughout May, to bring more awareness to mental health out in the community, the Mental Health Authority has Adult Psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Spurlock and Clinical Director Erin Fletcher going to locations such as Alcona Health Center and Alpena Public Schools to inform local residents of the organization’s mental health and crisis services, along with a service provided called myStrength.

“They’ll talk about our crisis services, other service provisions, and myStrength,” Crittenden said. “MyStrength is a website or app that we purchased years ago for our communities served and it’s a free confidential resource available to anybody within our counties served. It’s all evidence-based material, so let’s say I want to work on anxiety. The modules are just a few minutes long with different exercises in there.”

The final two events that the Mental Health Authority will put on are a blood drive on May 29 with Versiti Blood Center of Michigan at the APlex from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and its second annual Mental Health Movement Event on May 18.

The Mental Health Movement Event, which only had a 5-kilometer route available last year, will now feature a 2-kilometer and 10-kilometer route as a means to be more inclusive for all levels of ability.

Rebekah Duhaime, executive assistant at the Mental Health Authority, said that even with the fewer routes last year, there was an overwhelming amount of participants than the organization ever expected.

“We had over 200 participants show up on that day which, the whole time, we were saying that we just wanted to get to 100,” Duhaime said in a previous report from The News. “So, the fact that we got to 200 was amazing. Due to the overwhelming support we received from the community, we wanted to bring everybody together and fight against the stigma of mental illness, so we expanded our race to have other routes.”

Children ages 11 and under are free to register for the race, but older participants must pay a fee per person. Current registration is open until May 16 with a price of $30. To register, visit, the authority’s Facebook event page, or

“Mental health matters,” Crittenden said. “It is a part of every one of us and, according to The Association of Mental Illness, from the onset of mental health symptoms to the time of treatment on average is 11 years. We want to work to shorten that because it’s really concerning that an individual potentially suffers in varying degrees for 11 years before receiving treatment and we know for others it’s longer. Mental health impacts every aspect of our lives, so we look at it equally as important as physical health in our organization.”

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