As the tenth leading cause of death in America, mental illness is a real and resounding problem in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
This year, on December 15, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, with Dr. Jeffrey Gardere celebrated the Second Annual National Day of Healing at Brooklyn Borough Hall to offer the message to residents, You are not alone.
The National Day of Healing serves as a moment to take note and acknowledge people with mental health issues and those who may feel sad or alone, especially during the holidays.
“My message is simple, ‘You are not alone.'”
Young students, college students, politicians, teachers and more were there in solidarity to support those suffering from despair. Each speaker for the event took a moment to educate the audience of ways to help themselves through those tough times and to remind everyone that ‘you are not alone.’
The holidays seem to bring out the joy in people but not everyone– particularly during this time of political division where many are feeling increased hopelessness, confusion and sadness. Others may have lost someone or who may have experienced some form of trauma.
“There is now the reality that we have to face…of the vicious political election that has resulted in a lot of hate crimes as we know, a lot of fear, a lot of anger, just so much more that our children will have to deal with,” said Dr. Jeff Gardere, also known as Dr. Jeff, a psychologist and media personality.
“My message is simple, ‘You are not alone.’ Reach out for support and trust that it’s out there. Empower yourself by volunteering to help others who are in distress. Spend time with people who make you feel safe and loved.”
Adams said people are social creatures, all bound by one connective force. He pointed to the Geneva Experiment, drawing a parallel of how some people can change the way you look at the people around you:
“They took two pieces of matter that were connected. Then they separated the matter and they only touched one piece of the matter and the other piece that was separated also responded to the touch,” said Adams. “Finally, scientists have acknowledged that when you are matter, which we all are, once you were once connected, even when you are separated you are still connected.”
Adams continued, “So when a child is separated from their parent physically they are still connected to them based on this experiment. Then when you do a study of human kind and you realize that although we have spread out all over the globe we all come from one source and we are all connected.”
Adams then led the room in a brief, 5-second moment of silence for those who struggle emotionally during the holiday season or in general.
“I want to tell you a little story. I wore a borrowed coat not just because it was cold outside. The coat belonged to my mother, who’s no longer here,” said Dr. Starr Eaddy, a health and wellness expert and associate professor at St. Francis College. “I want you to take a moment and I want to encourage you to look through your personal belongings and find the thing that represents a connection…”
Dr. Eaddy then waited while everyone began to rifle through their bags: “What is it that you carry with you that represents a connection that is meaningful to [you], especially during the holidays. Just for a millisecond, I want you to hold that item and I want you to experience that connection. I’d like you to think how you will share that connection with someone else.”
Professor Richard E. Green closed with the message that we, as residents, are a part of a larger family of human beings who must pass on feelings, thoughts and words of inclusiveness: “Pass it on. Tell each other good words. Think about good words… Pass it on to each other.”