Today is World Mental Health Day – a day to raise awareness of mental illness and supporting those in need.
The Norfolk Regional Center is holding a memorial service for those buried in its cemetery, who were residents of the psychiatric hospital.
“I think one of the great things about memorial services like this,” Stacey Werth-Sweeney, interim CEO, tells Nebraska Radio Network, “it helps people to feel OK and comfortable in talking openly about what they’re experiencing.”
The gravestones at the cemetery are marked by number, not name, so Werth-Sweeney says the names of all 518 people buried there will be read during the service.
“We do remember them and we hope their families feel comfortable to come forward and maybe put a marker on their loved one’s grave,” she says, “or remember that they have people buried here and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Part of World Mental Health Day is for mental health professionals to talk about their work and the challenges of providing care to those in need. It also is designed to raise awareness of the illness and related issues.
“Mental illnesses just don’t go away, and it’s something that people need to be cognizant of, just like diabetes doesn’t go away. You still have to maintain, manage it,” Werth-Sweeney says. “We teach people to be in active recovery, so they can live and function in our communities.”
The remembrance at the Norfolk Regional Center cemetery, 1700 North Victory Road, begins at 10:30 a.m.