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Mental health-related issues have historically been taboo subjects—something swept under the rug and rarely discussed publicly. However, in recent years, mental health has begun to garner the attention that it has long deserved. Village resident Pamela Oliver is doing her part to shine a light on mental wellness, particularly among youth. The suicide of the son of a close friend was Mrs. Oliver’s call to action. Believing that her friend’s son was just one of many young people suffering unbearably in silence, Mrs. Oliver set out to be the change that she wanted to see. “This hit close to home…this was someone I watched grow up. His death by suicide moved me to do something,” said Mrs. Oliver.
On Saturday, October 8, she hosted “Light the Night for Mental Wellness,” a three-hour event focused on mental health wellness and suicide prevention, at Sergeant Means Park. The event, jointly sponsored by the Kristin Oliver Memorial Charities, NBC Chicago, Rich Township and the Olympia Fields Park District, featured the personal testimonies of several people whose lives have been touched by mental health issues and suicide and a candlelight vigil, among other activities designed to raise awareness. A variety of local organizations, mental health experts and providers, including the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), Sertoma and Rich Township, were on hand to speak one-on-one with attendees and offer resources to interested guests.
Mrs. Oliver, an assignment editor with NBC Chicago, and her husband Kelvin Oliver, a Village trustee, whose daughter Kristin succumbed to a rare heart cancer in 2020, know the pain of losing a child. In their daughter’s honor, the Olivers established the Kristin Oliver Memorial Charities. “Kristin was always concerned about the mental health of her family and friends,” shared Mrs. Oliver.
When asked about the takeaways she hoped attendees would gain from the event, Mrs. Oliver stated that she wants people to know that “It’s okay to say I’m not okay.” Further, she wants to encourage others to lead with compassion. “If you see someone in distress, Mrs. Oliver says, ask them “Are you okay?”
Mrs. Oliver is on a mission to prevent the suffering and self-inflicted harm that often results from depression and untreated mental illness. And clearly, others are listening to her pleas—in the aftermath of the Light the Night event, several other communities have requested that she sponsor similar events for their residents. Mrs. Oliver’s goal is the make Light the Night an annual event. “I look forward to lighting the night next year,” said Mrs. Oliver. While it’s difficult to quantitatively measure the success of events like Light the Night, per Mrs. Oliver, “If we can touch one life, then we’ve been successful.”
For more information on the Light the Night for Mental Wellness program contact email@example.com.
The Kristin Oliver Memorial Charities will sponsor its annual blood drive on April 23–24, 2023. The blood drive will take place in Olympia Fields, however, the venue has yet to be determined. Stay tuned for more details.
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Kirby Rehabilitation, Inc. (Matteson)
Mobile Crisis Team 773-614-4002www.kirbyrehab.org
Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI)Mobile Crisis Response Team
NAMI Chicago Helpline
Grand Prairie Behavioral Health
Grand Prairie Services
Chicago Heights: 708-503-9670