Sun, Jan

Event attempts to erase mental illness stigma


Erase the Stigma, Steps to Recovery Homes' second annual mental health and addiction awareness event, takes place at the Cottonwood Recreation Center Saturday, June 24 from 9 a.m, to 2 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Food, drinks, and day passes to the rec center will be given to attendees for free. The event features seven featured experts speaking on subjects including grief, trauma and community awareness. In addition, a variety of organizations will be on hand at informational booths to answer questions about the related services they offer.

"Forty-two million people suffer from mental illness and 24 million suffer from addiction every day in this nation, and the stigma surrounding these illnesses keeps them living in the dark, suffering alone," Steps to Recovery Homes co-founder Damien Browning said. "Solutions are available. However, first we need to give them the strength to reach out and resources to turn to."

The city of Cottonwood has placed its resources behind the event, endorsing Browning's efforts by waving the rec center's usual rental and setup fees for the event.

Founded by couple Damien and Anne Browning, Steps to Recovery Homes is in its fourth year of operation. The Brownings oversee two Cottonwood homes, one that houses eight men and another that houses five women.

Last year, the operation packed up and moved to its current office in Clemencau Plaza. At the Steps to Recovery Homes office, founders Damien and Anne Browning welcome applicants to its addiction recovery program and help train volunteers.
At Miracles Happen, the nonprofit's resale store two doors down, current and former participants in the recovery program sort, pick up, label and sell used items.

"Steps to Recovery Homes witnesses the battle every single day and is hosting Erase the Stigma event in collaboration with many other organizations in Arizona who are committed to helping those who suffer with mental health problems and addiction," Damien Browning said.
"The more we, as a society, understand the unique challenges of mental health and addiction the more we can all help those that have these issues and the safer our communities will become."

In the wake of the event's publicizing, Browning said he has received a number of requests from organizations across Northern Arizona to host similar events.

"This is about helping our whole community," Browning said, adding that he recently evaluated his yearly statistics and was pleased by the outcome. "Out of 245 people that have come into our program, 48 percent are leading a better life ... That's making a core difference."

Browning will be available at the event to talk about volunteer opportunities at Steps to Recovery Homes. Additionally, interested parties are invited to stop by Steps to Recovery Homes at 516 State Route 89A, next to Vinnie's Pizza, or contact Browning at (928) 592-2603.


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