Tenney tree & mental health

Multiple articles have appeared in the Eagle Times about the outcry over removing the sugar maple in Ascutney representing the final legacy of the Romaine Tenney Farm. It is an important conversation for many reasons, and one that can also serve as a time of reflection on what was then an unbearable situation that led Mr. Tenney to take his own life.

Many of our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors deal with their own unbearable situations. These can lead to deep despair and the kind of hopelessness that might trigger suicide, depression, anxiety or substance use. Virtually no community is immune. Mental illness and substance use do not discriminate. Talking about mental illness and substance use candidly as treatable diseases helps reduce the social stigma surrounding them, and it encourages people who need help to seek it out. Our voices matter.

Since 1977, West Central Behavioral Health, the local nonprofit community mental health clinic, has worked tirelessly throughout Sullivan County and the Upper Valley. It has caring clinicians doing often-times lifesaving work to help people without regard for their ability to pay.

With clinics in Claremont, Lebanon and Newport, WCBH treated more than 2,200 clients from NH and VT last year. That translates into over 55,000 client visits, about a quarter of which were with children — a particularly vulnerable group where early intervention really counts. WCBH also maintains an Emergency Services crisis line with skilled clinicians on duty 24/7, taking more than 5,000 calls annually. The phone number to call is 800-564-2578, and it’s free.

A powerful tribute to Mr. Tenney would be to learn from his tragic situation and let it guide us to help others in need. Let’s use all our resources to share the news that mental illness and substance use disorders are treatable diseases. Discussing them openly helps those afflicted feel more comfortable finding the care they need to regain their health and live long, satisfying lives.

Today, there is help. We are all part of the solution!

Dave Celone

Post Mills, VT

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