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Faces and voices of mental health focus of events in April

Three local groups are banding together to raise awareness of mental health issues facing Warren County residents with two events in April.

Joan Becker will be the keynote speaker for a presentation on “Putting Faces to Mental Illness” Tuesday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m., at the Indianola High School Auditorium.

Becker will talk about the struggles her family faced with their son, Mark, before he killed Parkersburg coach Ed Thomas. In addition, Sherri Sinclair, whose daughter, Kelli, suffered from mental illness and ultimately killed her son, Gavin, before taking her own life, also will speak about her family’s experience with mental illness.

Simpson College, the Warren County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Warren County Standing Together on Prevention Coalition (WCSTOP) are co-sponsoring the presentation, along with another presentation on Wednesday, April 3, at Simpson College for mental health professionals working with people with psychiatric disabilities.

Emmalee Bowlin, director of Warren County General Assistance, said the April 3 presentation, “Hearing Voices that Are Distressing” is a difficult but outstanding training session. The event is free and geared toward mental health professionals. Registrations are due by Monday, March 25. If spaces remain after the deadline, the sessions will be opened to the public.

Two sessions will be held, one from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and a second from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Both will be held in the Kent Campus Center at Simpson College.

Bowlin is helping to spearhead both the presentations. She says recent tragedies have raised awareness of the issues facing the mentally ill and she hopes these events will build on that awareness.

“Mental health issues really have no socio-economic boundaries,” she said. “While some people can afford treatment, there sure are a lot who can’t. No one welcomes mental illness, and I think a lot of people forget that.”

For more information on either presentation contact Bowlin at or Ruth Engelbart at


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