Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. For the past 20 years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recognized Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) every May to increase awareness about the vital role mental health plays in our overall health and well-being.

1. So, what is Easton’s Here to Help?

Easton’s Here to Help (EHTH) is a coalition working to decrease substance misuse and mental health disorders among our youth and families. We work with local stakeholders to build a healthy, safe and thriving community by providing prevention resources, educational opportunities, and collaboration on community-wide initiatives.

2. When was it founded and by whom?

EHTH was founded during March of 2022, after it became apparent that youth, families and residents were suffering from pandemic related issues and isolation. The First Selectman of Easton, David Bindelglass, asked Easton residents Alison Witherbee (Director of Social Services) and Sarah Lehberger (Marketing Manager of United Way of Coastal Fairfield County) to lead the efforts in Easton given their backgrounds in social services and public health. At the time, Easton was the only town in Southwest Connecticut that did not have a local prevention council.

In Connecticut, each municipality has a Local Prevention Council whose goal is to increase public awareness of alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and to stimulate the development and implementation of local prevention activities, with a primary focus on youth. Many also address social-emotional health, recognizing the strong relationship between substance misuse and mental health disorders. The Hub CT is our partner in prevention as the state-designated Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization serving Southwestern Connecticut.

3. Why is Easton’s Here to Help important?

New data shows that we are in a mental health crisis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “prevention and early intervention strategies can reduce the impact of substance use and mental disorders in America’s communities.”

Research suggests that resources and evidence-based strategies can affect change over time. Providing tips, tools, and healthy coping mechanisms to reduce stress and improve our overall health and wellness can lower our risk for depression, suicide, and other conditions. When properly done, a good preventive intervention is long lasting and focused on reducing vulnerability and enhancing wellness, which is our hope for Easton and Redding youth (our service area extends to Joel Barlow High School as well).

Supporting data can be found at and

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