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First Selectman’s Corner: 2017, Canton’s Year of Mental Wellness

December 19, 2016 Community, Government No Comments

Leslee Hill

Dear Canton Residents,

Greetings of the Season!

I hope you all are enjoying the winter weather, and are staying warm and healthy.  I want to share with you a special announcement of an initiative that has been in the planning stages for several months.

Earlier this year, I began forming a task force to look at the issue of opioid addiction in our area.  This started from conversations with Jennifer Kertanis, the Director of the Farmington Valley Health District, and Claire Cote, our Senior and Social Services Director.  We also involved Chris Arciero, Canton Police Chief; Kevin Case, Superintendent of Schools; Sue Saidel, Chairman of the Youth Services Bureau; Justine Ginsberg, FVHD Community Health Coordinator; Maria Skinner, Clinical Director of the McCall Center in Torrington and Canton resident; Mary Hess, Canton League of Women Voters; and Rev. Linda Spiers of Trinity Episcopal Church.  Through our conversations, our scope enlarged to include the broader themes of addiction, mental health, and mental wellness.  

At times, we are numb to the news of the impact of mental illness on families and communities, from stress in children affecting their school work, to severe mental illness of those committing senseless acts of violence, and the horror stories of opiate addiction and overdose deaths. We must not lull ourselves into a false sense of security; these crises do exist here in the Farmington Valley and in Canton. However, I believe this deeply compassionate and service-oriented community can encourage those who need help to seek it, provide information about help that is available, and support our neighbors who are struggling. Most importantly, we can all incorporate actions into our daily lives that foster and support our own mental wellness.

Therefore, I am excited to announce a year-long campaign for 2017, “Canton’s Year of Mental Wellness.”  The aforementioned individuals have been most generous with their time and talents, and together we are developing a year-long Call to Action designed to highlight mental health and addiction issues, share information, and inspire positive change through community dialogue.  We will begin at the Annual Town Meeting, on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium, where one of the topics will be Mental Health Issues in Canton.  More information on this campaign will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, I would be happy to hear your thoughts or suggestions on topics or information you would like to see addressed throughout the year.  Please feel free to email me at lhill@townofcantonct.org, call me at 860-693-7847, or stop by to see me at the Town Hall.

I wish you all a joyous, healthy and happy holiday season and New Year!

Best regards,
Leslee B. Hill
First Selectman


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