BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Bowling Green community members gathered Friday at the Wood County Fairgrounds to have fun talking about the importance of mental health while enjoying an early Halloween as part of National Mental Health Awareness Week.
Nami Wood County held its annual after-burn event, featuring chili food, trunk-or-treating, and other family-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy.
Almost everyone appeared to be in costume for the event, with the exception of Bowling Green State University Police Officer Corey DiModica. Instead, he decorated his car for a trunk-or-treat event. He said he loves attending NAMI events and the organization considers him a champion because he supports advocacy for everyone’s mental health.
“A key phrase we always say is, ‘It’s okay not to be okay,'” DiModica said. “If something is going on and you’re not okay, talk to someone and get back on track.”
Dimodica has been a BGSU employee since 2016 and has dreamed of working in law enforcement since he was a child. He said Nami’s messages and mental health resources have been helpful not only to the students he has worked with, but also to himself.
“A lot of what we do with them is meaningful and helps project their future careers,” he said. “It’s important to me to know what resources I can provide to help them navigate college.”
Whether it’s students, first responders, or families, NAMI’s goal is to get the message about mental health awareness out to the public. Executive Director Jessica Hartman said those who cannot attend events such as Afterburn should check social media platforms. She said the topic of mental health is not that complicated for everyone if it is explained correctly according to the person’s age.
“One in five people lives with signs and symptoms of a mental health condition,” Hartman said. “It’s common for families to be affected by mental health conditions.”
Courtney Rice, NAMI’s development and marketing manager, said all of the fun activities at the event are coordinated with or run by local mental health agencies to raise awareness of available resources.
“They promote their resources and provide good information. A lot of the great work is very healing,” Rice said. “Tonight is a great way for people to learn proper coping skills.”