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CEDAR FALLS — The community is invited to attend an event focusing on mental health issues Monday at Cedar Falls High School.

“Let’s Talk Mental Health: A Community Conversation” will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the school, 1015 Division St. The free event hosted by Cedar Falls Community Schools requires no registration. It is sponsored by MercyOne, Martin Bros. and Sidecar Coffee.

Child care and light refreshments will be offered. Attendees should use the auditorium entrance.

A vendor fair begins at 5:30 p.m. and the keynote address will be given by Joan Becker at 6 p.m. Becker, the author of “Sentenced to Life — Mental Illness, Tragedy, and Transformation,” will share the story of her son and how their family dealt with his mental illness. She speaks advocates for mental health services across Iowa after her son, Mark, fatally shot beloved Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.

Following the keynote will be sessions starting at 7:15 p.m. including:

  • “Less Stress More Gain: Addressing Mental Health and Wellness in the Post-secondary Transition and College Admissions Process.” The session will be led by Cedar Falls High School college and career counselor Chris Wood as well as former University of Northern Iowa admissions counselor and current College of Business academic advising manager Jenny Connolly.
  • “Youth Use, Abuse, and Addiction: Did they get a couch-lock from the herbal in the vape box?” led by Jacquelyn Preston, community prevention educator/compliance specialist, Pathways Behavioral Services.
  • “A Trauma Informed Community” led by school counselor Jen Alexander.
  • “Anxiety with a K-12 Perspective” led by Emily Conrad, school-based therapist for Black Hawk Grundy Mental Health Center with Cedar Falls Schools and Cortney Alber, State Street Counseling Services.
  • “Suicide Awareness — The Power to Prevent,” led by Brian Nissen, suicide prevention educator at UNI.

School counselors Jeni Barry at Cedar Heights Elementary, Angela Wittmer at Holmes Junior High, Rebecca Lins at Peet Junior High, and Carrie Dieken the high school organized and planned the event.

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