Lawrence M. Walsh
Will County Board Members District 1 Judy Ogalla and Laurie Summers are hosting a Community Conversation beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7 at the Beecher Community Hall, 673 Penfield Street in Beecher. Officials from the County Executive Office and Health Department will discuss opioid use disorders and suicide, both of which are occurring in record numbers throughout the nation. The event will also invite the public to comment on needs surrounding these issues.
“I applaud Laurie and Judy for organizing this event in Eastern Will County,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “It is important we listen to the residents in this area to ensure we are offering the appropriate health and safety services.”
Dr. Kathleen Burke, the county’s Director of Substance Use Initiatives, will be speaking about the significant impact of opioid and heroin abuse.
“It is critical we have this dialogue to help people understand the effect of opioid abuse and how to identify children who may be at risk for substance use,” Burke said. “Drug use disorder and mental illness are developmental disorders that often begin at an early age, during periods when the brain experiences dramatic developmental changes. We want to educate parents how to help their children cope with childhood experiences as a deterrent to substance misuse.”
In addition, Dr. Joe Troiani and Dr. Scott Dubois from the Will County Health Department will be speaking about advocating for services and suicide respectively.
“The stigma associated with substance use disorders and suicide has a powerful effect on a community,” Dubois said. “Raising awareness of mental health and substance related disorders will educate the public and combat this stigma that creates a barrier for individuals to accessing care. We want to teach people about Mental Health First Aid to help identify early signs of emotional distress which can affect anyone in our communities.”
The Will County Sheriff’s Department will be premiering its “In Plain Sight” trailer during the event. This trailer is designed to replicate a typical teenager’s bedroom. The purpose is to show unique places a teen can hide drugs or drug paraphernalia.
“This display will give parents an opportunity to learn much more about the minds of teens,” said Will County Sheriff Mike Kelly. “It is surprising how creative a teen can be when trying to hide drugs. This display will help parents keep their children safe from substance abuse.”
For more information about county services at the Monee branch of the health department at (815) 727-8803.