Today, PEERS, in collaboration with Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare Services and the Pool of Consumer Champions, hosted a National Mental Health Day of Prayer event in Oakland. This event brought together community leaders of different faiths and belief systems to remember forgotten mental health consumers and hope for a more compassionate and inclusive future.

Specifically, today’s gathering honored consumers who suffered under systemic oppression, hospitalization, and incarceration and who were discriminated against and denied their rights. Before California transitioned from a mental health system centered around state-administered hospitals to one characterized by county oversight, many consumers were disempowered and mistreated by the system of care that was in place at that time. The underlying goal of today’s event was to help empower mental health consumers who are still underserved and stigmatized.

One of the event’s highlights was a rock painting art activity. This activity allowed attendees to express themselves through a creative medium. Participants were encouraged to make one rock for their own wellness and leave another rock to inspire others.

Additionally, the Day of Prayer featured speeches by clergy, community leaders, county administrators, and members of PEERS’ Lift Every Voice and Speak group. These speeches centered on the role of faith and belief in personal wellness. Perhaps the most prominent speaker at the event was the Reverend Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant, and a renowned organizer within Oakland’s African American community.

Couldn’t make it to this year’s event? Check back for more Day of Prayer news and join us next year!

Peers Envisioning and Engaging In Recovery Services is a community mental health non-profit located in Oakland, California. We confront mental health stigma by delivering support groups, workshops, and community outreach. Visit us online at www.peersnet.org

The Alameda County Everyone Counts Campaign, formerly known as the Social Inclusion Campaign, is an effort of Alameda County, funded through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI), to reduce stigma, prejudice and discrimination and to increase social inclusion for individuals living with a mental illness diagnosis. Visit www.everyonecountscampaign.org