HomeNews & EventsPublicationsMind Matters - Summer 2022IPS Partners with State Representative Maurice West for Health Fair in Rockford

IPS Partners with State Representative Maurice West for Health Fair in Rockford

Electronic Summer 2022  |  Issue 51

IPS Partners with State Representative Maurice West for Health Fair in Rockford
Co-contributors: Steven Weinstein, MD;
Abdi Tinwalla, MD;
Christian Alfonso, MPH, UIC-Rockford, Class of 2023

The Illinois Psychiatric Society has been working to effect change in mental health services and get involved in community events highlighting mental health for some time. These efforts began with the Government Affairs Committee. In response to the death of George Floyd in May 2020, the Health, Equity, Anti-Racism Committee (HEAR-C) was created and Co-Chair Adrienne Adams MD, decided to steer HEAR-C to a position that emphasized the importance of diversity and community outreach.

Readers may recall our initial effort in community outreach was the presentation IPS (Drs. Weinstein, Tinwalla, Johnson and Adeoye) gave to 100 Black Men-Chicago, where State Representative for Illinois’ 67th District of Rockford, Maurice West was a co-presenter on our panel. Building on that success, Dr. Adams and other IPS leaders connected with Representative West to discuss ways his District’s health fair could address stigma and myths around mental health, as well as to address the need for active participation in health literacy and promotion. This Health Fair was a conversation and amalgamation of the idea of “health” from a broad array of perspectives and paradigms.

The Health Fair was held at the Rosecrance Ware Center in Rockford, Illinois on June 11, 2022. IPS was represented by IPS President Dr. Abdi Tinwalla, Immediate Past President Dr. Steve Weinstein and Past President Dr. Jim Mackenzie and several medical students (Emily Bazi, William Graft, Christian Alfonso, Amy Barzgari, and Rachel Kim from University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford and Corbin Pagano from Roselind Franklin University of Medicine and Science).

 Dr. Adams provided some key background support for the health fair. She helped get Rosecrance to house the health fair at its Rockford location and recruited medical students from UIC-Rockford.

The health fair was a great success and allowed IPS staff to provide mental health education to the visitors. We had a “vendor table” staffed by medical students, at which we provided informational flyers on mental health, and had informal discussions around mental health. Also, we emphasized the link between physical and mental health. We offered BMI calculations and practical steps people can take to build a more health-focused approach to their daily lives.

IPS was the only group who gave a formal presentation at the health fair. Medical Students Emily Bazi, William Graft and Christian Alfonso did break out sessions on destigmatizing and demystifying psychiatric services, Substance Use, the Integration of Physical and Mental Health, and the Social Determinants of Health and their impact on mental health, respectively; while Steve Weinstein MD spoke on demystifying psychiatric care, and Jim Mackenzie MD showed his oratory skills engaging the audience around access to treatment, psychotherapy vs. medications and Collaborative Care. Dr. Abdi Tinwalla facilitated the question-and-answer section of the presentation. 

As always, thanks to Kristen Malloy, Director of Operations at IPS, for preparing flyers, herding us cats, and for outfitting us in brightly colored IPS T-shirts. And a very special thanks to the medical students, who volunteered several hours of their scarce free time.

To quote medical student Christian Alfonso, “I for one am incredibly excited to have this opportunity to be outside of a clinical setting and discussing the real-world interconnections of how social and individual climates manifest as “health” and ultimately, the choices we make over time.”



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