Mental Health Awareness Month

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. During May, NAMI and other organizations are raising awareness of mental health. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Read more about mental health with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).


Here are a few titles to check out on the topic:
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang – discusses the medical community’s own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life.

Insane: America’s Treatment of Mental Illness by Alisa Roth – an expose of the mental-health crisis in America’s courts and prisons reveals that nearly half of the nation’s inmates are actually afflicted by a psychiatric problem, examines how inmates are denied treatment, and suggests a more humane approach.

Depression in Later Life: An Essential Guide by Deborah Serani – depression is one of the leading mental disorders in any age group, but among the elderly it is often viewed as a normal part of aging. It is not. Depression at any age requires attention and treatment. For sufferers and their families and caregivers, this go-to guide introduces readers to depression among the aging and elderly.

Local Resources:
Partner for Mental Health provides connections, education, and advocacy for individuals, family members, clinicians, and other stakeholders to promote mental health and support recovery. 434.977.4673

Region Ten is part of a statewide network of 40 Community Service Boards working to provide mental health, intellectual disability and substance use services where they are needed – in the local community. 434.972.1800 or 866.694.1605

The Women’s Initiative has free one-on-one sessions with a counselor during walk-in clinic hours. 434.872.0047

April is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month. The goal of the month is to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They found that 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls were on the autism spectrum. Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.

Medline Plus has more information about autism and the National Institute of Mental Health lists signs and symptoms.

Here are a few nonfiction books to learn more about autism:
Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Austim by Peter Hotez. Dr. Hotez’s daughter was diagnosed with autism. Dr. Hotez, a pediatrician-scientist who develops vaccines for neglected tropical diseases that affect the world’s poorest people, became troubled by the decades-long rise of the influential anti-vaccine community and their discourse around childhood vaccines and autism. He explains the science that denies the concerns of the anti-vaccine movement, debunks current conspiracy theories, and critiques the scientific community’s failure to effectively communicate the facts about vaccines and autism to the general public.

Autism in Heels by Jennifer Cook O’Toole. Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 35, and for the first time in her life, things made sense. In this memoir Jennifer brings to light the constant struggle between a carefully crafted persona and an “authentic existence, editing the autism script with wit, candor, passion, and power.”

The Warner Boys by Ana Warner. “Seahawks star running back Curt Warner and his wife, Ana, were prominent figures in Seattle in the early 1990s. When they dropped from the public eye after Curt’s retirement, everyone assumed it was for a simpler life. But the reality behind their seclusion was a secret they hid from even their closest friends: their twins had been diagnosed with severe autism. What followed was a painful struggle to hold their family and their marriage together in a home filled with chaos, emotional exhaustion, and constant fear for the safety of their unpredictable but beloved boys.”

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month was founded in April 1996 and is celebrated by reading poems and highlighting the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets.

Here are a few new books of poetry by American poets to try:

41Y1o00Y+WL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Dissolve by Sherwin Bitsui. Bitsui is a Diné (Navajo) poet from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona. His previous book of poetry, Flood Song, won an American Book Award. He currently teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts.




Oculus by Sally Wen Mao. Mao was born in China and grew up in Boston and the Bay Area. She has written two books of poetry and her work has been published in numerous magazines. Mao is currently teaching in the Asian American Studies department at Hunter College.



9781566895149_FC_d772138b-8e7e-4105-a39b-a7dfa411e894_1024x1024Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed. Reed was born in South Carolina and his work often deals with what it means to be a queer black man in America. This is his first full-length book of poetry and it won the National Book Award in Poetry in 2018.




Nearing Ninety by Judith Viorst. Viorst grew up in New Jersey and is the author of a series of light verse books on aging. She is a noted children’s book author, but also writes fiction for adults. Viorst has won numerous awards, including the Foremother Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Research Center for Women & Families in 2011.