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Virtual health fair focuses on mental health

Mental health and recovery issues will be the main focus of a virtual health fair for Beaufort County residents. 

The free event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, August 13, and will be streamed on Facebook Live. Organizers include Gwendolyn Gilbert, Chief Behavioral Officer at Agape Health Services, who said the event is being held online “so nobody who is interested will have to pay for this. All the sessions will be separate, so viewers can jump on and off based on the speakers or topics they are interested in. All-day presence is not required.”

The full program won’t be finalized until this weekend, but nine groups have so far committed to the event, including Agape Health Services, Beaufort County Health Department, Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children, Cornerstone Family Worship Center, Daughters of Worth, ECU Psychiatry, PRIDE of North Carolina, Second Judicial District Recovery Court, and Trillium Health Services.

The day’s topics will focus on mental health and a concept Gilbert called “whole person health” which she said is unique among typical health fairs. 

“We’ve been working on this since spring of 2021, brainstorming about services for our patients,” Gilbert said of meetings between her and Keith Hamm of Integrated Health Services, who came up with the idea, its focus, and the online presentation style. Once word spread about the event among providers, interest grew regarding how far-reaching the online health offering could become. As a result, the idea now includes separate virtual events in three geographical areas across the state. “This one was created for Beaufort County, but we are welcoming anyone from Eastern North Carolina. This is for anyone who is interested,” Gilbert said.

A partial list of topics to be covered includes female empowerment, mental well-being, mindfulness, sexual abuse recovery, stigma and trauma, stigma associated with substance abuse, trauma-informed therapeutic services, and a general overview of the services provide by the groups participating in this event. 

“It is very valuable for people to understand ‘whole person health’, especially during this post-pandemic recovery and the possibility of needing to gear up for another round of COVID,” Gilbert said, adding that the “whole person” approach is about “looking at the whole system, not just the body systems. Instead of treating a specific disease, ‘whole person’ health focuses on restoring health, which includes mental health, empowering individuals and their families, promoting inner strength, self-reliance and preventing diseases across a lifespan. Look at it as putting resources and information into our physical, emotional and spiritual toolboxes to use when they are needed.”

A full list of event topics, participating providers, and a resource listing will be available on the event’s Facebook page: “North-Carolina-Coastal-Virtual-Health-Fair-And-Resources” by this weekend. Information may also be found by calling Agape Health Services at 252-940-0602.