In a partnership between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, bridged by human need and creativity, Headlamps for Mental Health is a beacon for collaboration among unlikely organizations. As the December days grew cold, short and dark, and the pandemic’s stressors grew, West Central Behavioral Health patients still needed care from their community-based clinicians. But moving indoors, face-to-face was too unnerving for many. Thus, was born the idea to use headlamps to light the way so patients and clinicians could stay outdoors for treatment. It was getting cold, but COVID-19 safety concerns dictated we keep patients safe.

We found a bright light in partnership with Upper Valley Strong and Greater Sullivan Strong who responded quickly to our requests for funding. Then, Eastern Mountain Sports in West Lebanon graciously offered a discount allowing us to purchase enough headlamps to go around. Now we can visit and treat children after school, and adults after work when the daylight dims—outdoors, to be safe, of course. To these three non-profit and for-profit co-collaborators, I offer my generous appreciation. And to all individuals, businesses, foundations, fellow non-profit organizations, cities, towns and counties who continue to support our work and mission to treat at-risk friends and neighbors with mental illness and substance use disorders, please know everyone at West Central offers a broad smile of thanks—even if covered by a mask of safety and a headlamp to light the way.

As we move into 2021, let’s all become more vocal about mental illness as the treatable illness it is—just like cancer, or diabetes, or COVID-19. We can inoculate ourselves against stigma by being open-minded and telling people who need help to contact us. Your conversations encouraging others to seek treatment is the next vaccine needed. Happy holidays and best wishes for a bright New Year.

Dave Celone is director of development & community relations for West Central Behavioral Health which has offices in Claremont, Lebanon, and Newport, New Hampshire. West Central’s emergency crisis line may be reached at 1-800-564-2578. Call when you need us, please.

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