FLEMINGTON, NJ – Mental health is getting increased attention in Hunterdon recently.

Rob Walton used his last meeting as Freeholder to highlight the importance of understanding mental illness and removing its stigma, a cause he has championed for years.  He is the board President of NAMI Hunterdon, a group that seeks to improve the quality of life for people with mental illness and their families. They provide support, education and advocacy.

Walton’s plea for increased dialog about mental illness was prompted in part by the death last month of a Hunterdon Central High School sophomore. Although the county Prosecutor’s Office has said the cause of death is undetermined, district Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Moore said the girl died after a suicide attempt that happened in the school.

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Hunterdon Behavioral Health will host a panel discussion, “Suicide Prevention: Building Resiliency and Reducing Risk in Youth,” on Wednesday, Jan.24.

The program will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Hunterdon Medical Center auditorium. The program is open all and no registration is required. Hunterdon Medical Center is located at 2100 Wescott Drive, just off of Route 31.

Safe Harbor Child Access Centers is teaming up with You Rock Foundation.  Safe Harbor has been working to complete a “safe space” in Flemington where programs will be held to offer relief and creative outlets to those individuals in crisis, and to aid them in expressing their feelings. The programs will involve artists, musicians, writers and others focused on supporting those who are struggling or in crisis.

Safe Harbor’s first collaborative session will take place Monday, Jan. 15 at its center on 171 Main St. here. It begins at 6:30 p.m.

Chabad of Hunterdon County believes there is a brewing crisis for local high school students. It’s hosting a panel discussion, also on Monday, Jan. 15, from noon to 2 p.m. at  90 Beaver Ave.in Annandale. All are welcome; there is no cost to attend and lunch will be served.

The panel discussion will cover topics such as bullying/self-esteem, the roles of parents and schools in a teen’s life, impact of social media, smartphone addiction, redefining education, an holistic approach, whether a parent should be a teen’s best friend, healthy habits reaching beyond school hours, destigmatizing alternative education paths, and free time vs. fun time: redefining a fun high school experience.

On the panel will be Deborah Gichan, a mother and Visual & Performing Arts teacher, Leah Harms, a high school student and Cteen member, Hunterdon Central School District Superintendent Moore and college professor Rabbi Aharon Dovid Gancz.

In addition to the panel discussion, the event will serve as the kickoff to CTeen of Hunterdon County’s annual coat drive. Attendees are welcome to bring their donations of new coats, in all sizes, for the annual drive.