Author: Community Health Net

Join Us at the 1st Annual Board of Directors Dinner Gala – An Evening of Health and Inspiration!


Are you ready to connect with healthcare and business professionals from across the Erie Region while exploring the vital connection between movement and health? Look no further than the 1st Annual Board of Directors Dinner Gala, an exciting event dedicated to the theme of “STAYING HEALTHY BY KEEPING YOUR BODY MOVING.”

Meet Our Inspiring Speaker – Stephen Galloway

Our guest speaker, Stephen Galloway, is a celebrated creative movement director and consultant with a remarkable 25-year career in ballet and dance theatre. His expertise spans a wide range of related fields, including costume design, musical performance, fashion photography, magazine publishing, and brand consultancy. Stephen’s insights into the world of movement and its impact on our well-being promise to be both enlightening and inspirational.

Event Details:

Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel
Agenda: Cocktail Hour at 6:00 PM, followed by a delightful dinner. A cash bar will also be available.
Ticket Price: $60 per person
RSVP by October 11th To secure your spot at this fantastic gathering, please RSVP by October 11th. For reservations and more information, kindly reach out to Mary Lynn Slivinski, Director of Administrative Services at Community Health Net. You can contact her at:

Phone: 814-454-4530 ext 227
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to engage with professionals who share your passion for health, movement, and wellness. Join us for an evening of connection, inspiration, and insightful conversations at the 1st Annual Board of Directors Dinner Gala. We look forward to seeing you there!

More About Our Speaker:

Stephen Galloway, a celebrated creative movement director and consultant, boasts a stellar 25-year career in ballet and dance theatre. His expertise extends across various related fields, including costume design, musical performance, fashion photography, and brand consultancy. Notably, he has been the creative advisor to the Rolling Stones for the past two decades, leaving an indelible mark on the band’s creativity.

He has orchestrated captivating fashion shows for prestigious design houses, including Yves Saint Laurent, Costume National, Versace, and Issey Miyake, with his stint as creative director for Issey Miyake from 1993 to 1997 standing as a testament to his brilliance. His enduring collaboration with esteemed fashion photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin has resulted in groundbreaking editorial imagery gracing the pages of leading magazines like Paris Vogue, US Vogue, V, and W. Additionally, his expertise extends to crafting prestigious advertising campaigns for luxury brands such as YSL, Calvin Klein, and Gucci. Highly sought after for choreographing motion image sequences, Galloway’s mastery contributed to behind-the-scenes films for Gucci’s fall/winter ’08-’09 and ’09-’10 campaigns. His brilliance extends beyond fashion, consulting for luxury brands like Mercedes Benz and Saab, while also serving as the editor of the esteemed quarterly magazine BRAVE!

September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month


Get the Facts

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a blood disorder passed down from parents that mainly affects people with African, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian backgrounds. It makes the red blood cells, which carry oxygen, become a weird shape and stiff. The most common kind of SCD is called sickle cell anemia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about 100,000 Americans have SCD. Around one in 365 African American babies are born with it. SCD can cause really bad pain, hurt your organs, and lead to other health problems, making life tough for those who have it.

Sickle cell anemia is a lifelong condition, and there’s no cure for it right now. It happens because of a change in the gene that makes a part of the blood called hemoglobin. This change leads to making a strange hemoglobin called hemoglobin S. When red blood cells with hemoglobin S release oxygen, they get stiff and turn into a sickle shape. These sickle-shaped cells tend to get stuck in small blood vessels, which causes blockages and less blood flow. This brings pain, hurts organs, and makes it easier to get sick.


Take Action

If you or someone you know is affected by Sickle Cell Disease, it is essential to be informed about the condition and access available resources and support. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Seek Medical Guidance: If you suspect you have SCD or have been diagnosed with the disease, consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in hematology or genetics. They can provide personalized guidance, information, and treatment options.

2. Education and Awareness: Learn more about SCD by accessing reputable sources of information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provide comprehensive resources on SCD, including symptoms, treatment, and management strategies. Understanding the disease can help individuals navigate their condition and make informed decisions.

3. Find Support Organizations: Connect with local or national organizations dedicated to supporting individuals with SCD and their families. These organizations can offer valuable resources, support groups, educational materials, and assistance in navigating healthcare systems.

4. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated about SCD and how it affects you personally. New treatments and helpful tips for managing your condition are always emerging. Your healthcare provider can share the latest insights and ways to improve your quality of life.

5. Share Your Experience: Don’t hesitate to talk about your journey with SCD with friends, family, and your healthcare team. Sharing your experiences can help others learn and provide you with valuable support. Your story can inspire and reassure those going through similar challenges, creating a strong and caring community of understanding.

Remember, knowing about Sickle Cell Disease and finding support is really important. When you learn, connect with helpful resources, and become part of a supportive community, people with SCD can get the help and understanding they need.

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or visit for more information.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sickle Cell Disease. (2021). Retrieved from

2. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sickle Cell Disease. (2021). Retrieved from

Empowering Communities: The Role of Community Health Centers in American Healthcare


In the vast landscape of the American healthcare system, Community Health Centers (CHCs) stand as beacons of hope and healing, providing vital primary care services to millions of individuals across the nation. As we celebrate National Health Center Week, it is essential to recognize the significant impact and indispensable role that CHCs play in fostering health equity and addressing the unique healthcare needs of underserved communities. This blog delves into the history, achievements, challenges, and transformative power of Community Health Centers, shedding light on their pivotal role in shaping the future of American healthcare.

The Birth of Community Health Centers
Community Health Centers emerged in the 1960s, during a time of profound societal change and growing awareness of healthcare disparities in America. Responding to a call for action, the federal government established the Health Center Program under the Public Health Service Act in 1965, with the mission to improve access to healthcare for the most vulnerable populations. The first CHC, Columbia Point Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts, paved the way for a national network of community-based clinics committed to delivering comprehensive, high-quality care irrespective of a patient’s ability to pay.

From Humble Beginnings to Nationwide Impact
The growth of Community Health Centers has been nothing short of extraordinary. Starting as a modest experiment, they have evolved into the largest and most successful independent system of primary care providers in the United States. With over 30 million people relying on their services, CHCs have become an integral part of the American healthcare landscape. They serve a diverse patient population, including almost 400,000 veterans, 9 million children, 1.3 million people experiencing homelessness, and 3.3 million elderly patients. In total, more than 1,400 CHCs and Look-alike organizations operate at over 14,000 locations, reaching both urban centers and the farthest corners of rural America.

Champions of Health Equity
At the heart of their mission, Community Health Centers are dedicated to advancing health equity and bridging the gaps in healthcare access and outcomes. One in 11 Americans receives care at a CHC, and within this patient population, the numbers speak volumes about the impact of their services. Twenty percent are uninsured, 59% are publicly insured, and a staggering 90% are considered low-income individuals. Additionally, 65% are members of racial and/or ethnic minority groups, and 42% reside in rural communities where access to care may otherwise be limited or non-existent.

The innovative and patient-centric approach of CHCs goes beyond addressing medical needs. By focusing on the social determinants of health, they seek to prevent illness, promote healthy living, and support patients in overcoming barriers that hinder their overall well-being. This approach ensures that CHCs do not just treat symptoms but work holistically to empower individuals and communities to thrive.

In times of crisis, Community Health Centers have proven their resilience and adaptability. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they swiftly embraced telehealth services, ensuring that patients continued to receive vital care while minimizing potential exposure to the virus. Their ability to pivot and respond to public health emergencies further emphasizes their role as pillars of community resilience and support.

Expanding Access to Care
Health centers play a pivotal role in expanding access to care, especially for those who may otherwise face significant challenges in obtaining medical services. As one in five uninsured Americans, one in three Americans living in poverty, and one in five rural Americans rely on CHCs for healthcare, their services serve as a safety net for those who might otherwise fall through the cracks of the traditional healthcare system.

Beyond primary care, Community Health Centers offer comprehensive services, recognizing the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and social well-being. Alongside primary medical services, most CHCs provide dental care, mental health care, substance use care, and behavioral health care. This holistic approach ensures that patients receive comprehensive and integrated care under one roof, leading to improved health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.

Challenges and the Path Forward
While Community Health Centers have undoubtedly achieved remarkable milestones, they also face challenges in fulfilling their mission to provide equitable healthcare for all. Limited resources, workforce shortages, and funding uncertainties often pose obstacles to their operations. Advocacy for ongoing support and increased investment in CHCs remains crucial to ensuring their sustainability and continued ability to serve their communities effectively.

As we celebrate National Health Center Week, let us recognize and appreciate the extraordinary impact of Community Health Centers in empowering communities and fostering health equity. Their unwavering dedication to serving those most in need, coupled with their innovative and compassionate approach to healthcare, paints a promising picture for the future of American healthcare. With collective efforts and ongoing support, Community Health Centers will continue to be the driving force behind transformative and inclusive healthcare practices in the United States. Together, let us stand united in championing their mission and commitment to creating healthier, thriving communities for all.

Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or visit for more information.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.



Community Health Net Receives Ultra-Widefield Imaging Vision Machine for New Eye Unit

The machine will enhance eye care for underserved and underinsured populations.

Erie, Pa. – August 3, 2023 – Community Health Net (CHN), the leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving the Lake Erie region, has announced the acquisition of a Zeiss Clarus 500 HD Ultra-Widefield Fundus Imaging Vision Machine. This state-of-the-art equipment will enable Community Health Net to enhance its vision services and provide its patients with more accurate and comprehensive eye exams, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is a cutting-edge machine that captures high-resolution images of the retina, macula, and optic nerve head in a single shot. With its ultra-widefield technology, the machine can capture up to 133 degrees of the retina, providing CHN’s Optometrist with a complete view of the eye. The images produced by the machine are essential in diagnosing and monitoring various eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is expected to significantly impact underserved populations in Erie County by improving access to advanced eye care services. “This machine is a game-changer for our patients, particularly those who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Craig Ulmer, CEO of Community Health Net. “With this equipment, we can provide high-quality eye care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”

The Zeiss Clarus 500 is now fully operational and available to patients at Community Health Net’s primary location at 1202 State Street in Erie. The machine was made possible by the generous donations of several organizations and individuals, including The Hamot Health Foundation, Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, Michelle Robertson, MJ Surgala, HRSA, Gateway, Kern Family Foundation, Erie Community Foundation, Erie Insurance, and the Community of Erie. Their support reflects their dedication to improving the health and well-being of the communities of Erie.

To learn more about Community Health Net’s services, visit their website at


About Community Health Net
Community Health Net is a Federally Qualified Health Center with seven locations and greater than 35 years of service. CHN is the preeminent, community-focused healthcare network advancing the wellness of the Lake Erie Region.  Its mission is to improve the region’s quality of life by providing professional healthcare services with compassion, respect, and dignity to all.


For Immediate Release


Community Health Net

Mary Lynn Slivinski

Director of Administrative Services

814.454.4530 x227


August is National Immunization Awareness Month


Welcome to August, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of vaccinations. National Immunization Awareness Month serves as a reminder for everyone to stay up-to-date with their immunizations and protect themselves and their communities against preventable diseases. In this blog, we will explore the facts surrounding vaccinations and the necessary actions individuals can take to ensure a healthier future.


Get the Facts

1. Vaccines Save Lives

Vaccines are one of the most successful public health tools ever developed. They have eradicated and controlled various diseases worldwide, saving millions of lives each year. By receiving vaccinations, we not only protect ourselves but also contribute to the greater well-being of our communities.

2. Vaccine Safety and Effectiveness

Before any vaccine is approved for public use, rigorous research and testing undergo multiple stages of scrutiny. Vaccines must meet strict safety standards set by health authorities, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The risks associated with vaccines are minimal compared to the potential harm caused by the diseases they prevent. Immunizations have proven to be highly effective in preventing illnesses and reducing their severity.


Take Action

1.Schedule a Check-up

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider for a comprehensive check-up, including a discussion about any vaccines you may need. Ensure that you have received all the necessary vaccinations recommended for your age and health condition. Your healthcare provider will review your immunization history, assess your current health status, and recommend any updates or boosters.

2. Stay Informed

Keep yourself informed about the latest immunization schedules and guidelines provided by reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Stay updated on new vaccines available and understand which vaccines are recommended for specific age groups or those with certain medical conditions.

3. Have Open Dialogues with Healthcare Providers

Engage in open conversations with your healthcare providers about vaccines. Discuss any concerns or questions you have and let them address your doubts. Healthcare professionals are the best resource for reliable information and can provide personalized advice based on your specific

August, recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month, serves as a crucial reminder for individuals to prioritize their immunizations. By getting the facts about vaccines and taking action, we can contribute to a healthier and safer community for everyone.


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222. Or visit for more information.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public in learning more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.



– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Their website provides comprehensive information on vaccines, including recommended immunization schedules, vaccine safety, and common vaccine myths debunked. Visit:

– World Health Organization (WHO): The WHO’s Immunization section offers global immunization data, guidelines, and resources. It covers topics such as vaccine research, vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccine safety. Visit:

– Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA’s website provides information on vaccine approvals, regulatory processes, and vaccine safety monitoring. Visit:

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day


World Hepatitis Day is just around the corner, and it’s time to raise our voices and shine a spotlight on this silent global epidemic. On July 28th, individuals, organizations, and communities all over the world come together to educate and advocate for the prevention and treatment of viral hepatitis. As we join forces to combat this mighty foe, let’s unveil its secrets and take action to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection, affects millions of people worldwide. But what makes this disease truly menacing is its stealthy nature. Often, you may not even realize you have it until severe complications arise. That’s why raising awareness is key to fighting back.



Get The Facts

Here are some important facts about hepatitis that you need to know:

1. Types: Hepatitis comes in five forms – A, B, C, D, and E. Each type has its own causes, modes of transmission, and varying levels of severity.

2. Prevention: Hepatitis A and B can be prevented through vaccination, while hepatitis C can be prevented by avoiding exposure to infected blood and practicing safe injection practices.

3. Testing: Regular screenings and tests are crucial in detecting hepatitis at early stages. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if you should undergo hepatitis testing and to learn about available screening options.

4. Stigma: Unfortunately, hepatitis still carries a heavy burden of stigma and discrimination. By educating ourselves and others, we can combat this prejudice and create a more supportive environment for those affected by the disease.

5. Treatment and Support: The good news is that hepatitis is a preventable and treatable disease. With appropriate medical care, many individuals can live healthy lives. Seek medical attention if you suspect you may have contracted hepatitis, and don’t hesitate to reach out to support groups and organizations for guidance and resources.


Take Action

Now that you’re armed with knowledge, how can you actively participate in World Hepatitis Day? Here are a few ideas:

1. Spread the Word: Utilize your social media platforms, newsletters, and community networks to raise awareness about World Hepatitis Day. Share informative content, personal stories, and reliable sources to educate others.

2. Get Tested: If you haven’t already been tested for hepatitis, use this occasion as a reminder to check your status. Encourage family, friends, and colleagues to do the same.

3. Educate Others: Participate in educational events within your community. Spread awareness about hepatitis and its prevention.

4. Support Organizations: Consider donating your time, resources, or funds to organizations like CHN Community Health Net of Erie PA that work tirelessly to provide hepatitis prevention, testing, and treatment services to underserved populations.


Remember, every action counts, no matter how big or small. By coming together on July 28th and beyond, we can create a world where hepatitis loses its grip on our communities. Learn more about medical care for people living with Hepatitis at


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.



– World Health Organization. (2021). Hepatitis: Key Facts. Retrieved from

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). World Hepatitis Day. Retrieved from

– World Hepatitis Alliance. (2021). World Hepatitis Day 2021. Retrieved from

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Viral Hepatitis – Statistics & Surveillance. Retrieved from

Taking Control of Your Health: National HIV Testing Day


In our journey toward overall well-being, we often neglect an essential aspect of self-care: our sexual health. As we focus on physical fitness, mental well-being, and healthy eating, it’s crucial to include regular HIV testing as a cornerstone of our self-care routine. National HIV Testing Day, observed on June 27th, is an opportunity to emphasize the significance of HIV testing. In this blog post, we’ll explore why HIV testing is essential and how it empowers individuals to take control of their health.


Self-Care: Prioritizing Health in All Aspects of Life:

At Community Health Net, we firmly believe that self-care is a fundamental component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While HIV testing might not be on everyone’s self-care radar, it is a vital step toward protecting oneself and others. By making HIV testing a routine part of our self-care regimen, we can ensure our overall well-being.


Why Get Tested for HIV?


1. Knowledge is Power:

Knowing your HIV status empowers you to make informed decisions about your health and take proactive measures to safeguard yourself and those you care about. Early detection of HIV leads to timely treatment and care, significantly improving health outcomes and quality of life.


2. Breaking Down Stigma:

HIV-related stigma can act as a barrier to testing and care. By getting tested, we challenge the stigma surrounding HIV, promoting a culture of acceptance and support. Testing demonstrates that HIV is simply a medical condition that anyone can face.


3. Protecting Your Partners:

Getting tested for HIV is not just about your personal health; it’s also about protecting your sexual partners. By knowing your HIV status, you can engage in open and honest conversations about sexual health with your partners, making informed decisions together and taking steps to prevent transmission.


4. Early Intervention is Key:

HIV is a treatable condition, especially when detected early. With advancements in medical science, individuals living with HIV can lead long, fulfilling lives with proper care and treatment. By getting tested, you open doors to timely interventions, ensuring access to necessary medical care and support.


On National HIV Testing Day, we invite you to join us in prioritizing your sexual health as an integral part of your self-care routine. Regardless of who you are or your station in life, HIV testing is a crucial step toward taking control of your health and well-being. By getting tested, you not only empower yourself but also contribute to breaking down stigma, protecting your partners, and ensuring early intervention if needed. Learn more about medical care for people living with HIV at


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). National HIV Testing Day.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). HIV testing.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). HIV treatment.

June is Men’s Health Month


More than 13% of U.S. men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health. But making healthy decisions can improve the health of men and boys.


Get the Facts

Men in the U.S. die at higher rates from heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries than any other causes. And the health of racial and ethnic minority men lags behind the general population.

Experts agree that men and boys can improve their health by getting regular checkups, eating healthy, staying active, quitting smoking, and taking care of their mental health.


Take Action

Small changes can make a big difference. Try these today:

  • Take a walk instead of watching TV
  • Eat a green salad instead of fries
  • Drink water instead of soda or other sugary drinks
  • Call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you are overdue for one

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends more ways to improve men’s overall health:

We will protect this heart.  

  • Healthier food choices build a healthier heart. Make fruits and vegetables half of your plate.
  • Limit alcohol to one drink a day, or choose not to drink at all.
  • Cope with stress through exercise, making time to relax, and spending time with others.

Bro, you don’t even have to lift. Getting just 30 minutes of exercise each day can help you live longer and healthier.

Preventive Maintenance. See a doctor for regular checkups even if you feel healthy. Doctors can provide vaccines, and they can test for:

  • Certain cancers
  • High blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)
  • Mental health conditions

Quitting Time. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other health problems, including risk of erectile dysfunction. If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Your doctor can help.

Hey man, you good? If you feel down, sad, or hopeless for two or more weeks, or get little pleasure from things you once enjoyed, you may be depressed. Don’t try to “tough it out.” Talk to your doctor and get the treatment you need.

Men with depression are at risk for suicide. If someone you know is in crisis, get help right away:

  • Call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • Call 911 for emergency services
  • Go to the hospital emergency room

Be #VaccineReady. Talk to your doctor to get your COVID-19 vaccines and your other shots.

Alcohol Use. Excessive alcohol can not only lead to heart disease and cancer, it can also  interfere with testicular function and male hormone production. Choose not to drink, or drink only in moderation.

For Older Men

Some healthy actions are especially important for older men.

  • Take your medications, vitamins, and supplements only as directed.
  • Call your doctor when you’re feeling sick. It can make the difference between life and death. Don’t wait.
    • Your doctor may recommend additional screenings for bone health, hearing and vision, and more.
    • Check with your doctor to get vaccinated against flu, shingles, tetanus/diphtheria, and pneumonia.
    • Tell your doctor if you have erectile dysfunction (ED), or difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. ED is common among older men, it can be treated, and it can be a warning sign of heart disease.
  • Use sunscreen year round, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Exercise your brain. Join a book club, take a class, or do word puzzles, number puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Do weight-bearing exercises like walking and jogging, plus weightlifting.
  • Spend time with others to stay mentally, physically and emotionally fit.

And encourage the boys and men in your life to take charge of their health!


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022, October 31). Excessive Alcohol Use is a Risk to Men’s Health. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from

—. (2022, October 14). Men and Heart Disease. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from

—. National Center for Health Statistics (2023, January 18). Men’s Health. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from

—. (2022, June 6). Prostate Cancer Statistics. CDC.Gov. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from

Health in Aging (2019, June). Tip Sheet: Good Health in Later Life for Older Men. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from **

National Institute of Mental Health (2017, January). Men and Depression. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (n.d.). Brother, You’re on My Mind. Retrieved May 13, 2023, from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2022, December 22). Men: Take Charge of Your Health. Health.Gov. Retrieved May 10, 2023, from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Minority Health (OMH) (2022). Men’s Health Month. HHS.Gov. Retrieved May 9, 2023, from

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month


Mental health affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Each year in the U.S., 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth experience a mental health disorder. But for many people, recovery is possible.


Get the Facts

What is Mental Illness

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior, or mood. Mental illness deeply impacts day-to-day living and may also affect the ability to relate to others.

Mental illness includes conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide, addiction, and others.

Mental illness can affect anyone. Half of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24.


Risk Factors

  • Genetics, environment and lifestyle, a stressful job or home life, traumatic events, biological factors in the brain, alcohol or drugs, and feelings of loneliness or isolation can all contribute to mental illness.
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide were found to be more common among students across gender, racial and ethnic groups.
  • Black students were more likely to attempt suicide than students of other races and ethnicities.
  • And people who have illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or cancer are at higher risk for depression.


Alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe, and even a mild disorder can lead to serious problems. Drinking too much can harm your health. Every year, excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the U.S. and caused 1 in every 5 deaths of U.S. adults aged 20-49 years.

Signs and Symptoms

Each mental illness has its own symptoms. Common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling very sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulty understanding or relating to people
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality
  • Overuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to do handle daily activities or stress
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

For children, symptoms may include:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Take Action

No medical test can accurately diagnose mental illness. Instead, a mental health professional will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to assess symptoms and make a diagnosis.

Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. A health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that may include medications, therapy, psychiatric rehabilitation, and peer support.

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your healthcare provider. Early treatment is important. Behavioral therapies, mutual-support groups, and/or medications can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.

Many people can return to meaningful roles in social life, school, and work especially when they start treatment early and play a strong role in their own recovery process.


There’s no sure way to prevent mental illness. But these practices may reduce your risk:

  • See your doctor regularly.
  • Get help when you need it.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Do not drink alcohol, or drink in moderation.
  • Stay connected to family and friends. Talk to people you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Make time to unwind and do activities you enjoy.
  • Take breaks from the news, including on social media.

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

“988” is the nationwide phone number to connect directly to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Call or text 988 to connect with mental health professionals.

Veterans, service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and those who support them can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline. For texts, Veterans should continue to text the Veterans Crisis Lifeline short code: 838255.


Call Community Health Net to schedule an appointment with a provider today: (814) 455-7222.

Our health information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist the public to learn more about their health. Community Health Net providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Health Facts is a public service announcement of Community Health Net.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2023, February 13). Adolescent and School Health: Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2022, September 14). Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2022, September 13). Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

Mayo Clinic (2023). Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

National Alliance on Mental Illness AMI (n.d.). Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI (n.d.). About Mental Illness. NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

Lynn Denning: A Healthcare Hero Passionate about Helping People

Written by DaWayne Cleckley for Community Health Net

Lynn Denning is the Medical Services Coordinator at Community Health Net, having joined the organization in 2022. She is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the medical offices, along with monitoring the organization’s LPN and medical assistants. Lynn’s passion for helping people is rooted in her family’s history of volunteering in the community.

Lynn Denning, LPN
Lynn Denning, LPN

“I was a preschool teacher; a child counselor at the Safe Net,” Lynn recalled her past experiences. However, it was her grandmother’s illness that made her realize her calling. “I realized at that moment that I could take care of people,” she said. Lynn’s passion for helping people goes back to her childhood when her family frequently volunteered in the community. “During high school, I volunteered at the food bank and helped with hurricane relief efforts down south,” she added.

Lynn began her nursing career in 2008 as an LPN in the acute care department at Abbington Crest Nursing Home. She worked her way up to become an Infection Control and Staff Development Nurse, earning a certification as an Infection Preventionist through the CDC. “We had a lot of staff come and go due to COVID burnout. That meant cooking meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner for patients,” Lynn said, describing the challenges she faced during the pandemic.

Lynn was diagnosed with two types of cancer, and after a year of treatment and surgery, she was eager to find a job that would allow her to continue helping people. Fortunately, a position became available at Community Health Net, an organization that helps the underserved population in the community. “I looked at the mission and what they did for the community. I saw that they helped the underserved. I saw it as a huge opportunity to serve the community again. It’s a big change from nursing home, but I love it here,” she shared.

In her role at Community Health Net, Lynn mentors the nursing staff, ensuring that they treat everyone with empathy and understanding, making a difference in their lives every day. “I want to make sure our staff treats patients how they would like to be treated. That’s the most important thing we can do,” she said.

Lynn enjoys spending time with her family and friends at her camp in the Alleghany Mountains, where she kayaks and bonds with her loved ones. When asked where she sees the community in 5 years, Lynn expressed her hope to see a healthier community that is full of understanding and empathy for the underserved and those with mental health issues. “I want to see people come together and help each other,” she concluded.

Lynn Denning is a healthcare hero who is dedicated to helping people in need. Her passion for helping others stems from her family’s history of volunteering in the community and her own experiences as a nurse. Her hard work and dedication have made her an essential member of the team at Community Health Net, where she is committed to making a positive impact in the lives of others.

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