German Village Gazette

May 28 at Hyatt Regency

George to be keynote speaker at mental health lunch


Former Ohio State and NFL great Eddie George will be the featured speaker at a luncheon next month geared toward debunking stigmas related to mental health issues.

Columbus Area Integrated Health Services Inc. will host a May 28 luncheon at noon at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Columbus, 350 N. High St., in hopes of opening a public dialogue about behavioral health.

The program, titled "Mental Health: Six Degrees of Separation," will feature a keynote address by George, who is expected to relate his own experiences with behavioral health issues.

"We exist to provide culturally sensitive substance abuse, mental health and wellness services to the community," said Anthony Penn, president and chief executive officer of Columbus Area Integrated Health Services. "This really is just to bring awareness to help overcome stigmas that are attached to mental health, substance abuse and wellness issues."

Tickets for the luncheon cost $50 per person; tables can be reserved, starting at $500.

Ticket information is available by calling 614-251-7840, or by emailing

All proceeds from the event will go to Columbus Area Integrated Health Services, located at 1515 E. Broad St., Columbus.

Founded in 1965 as part of Ohio's first efforts to develop community-based mental health services, the agency offers mental health and supportive employment services, substance use and addictive disorder programs, prison re-entry programs, pharmacy and integrated health care and youth prevention services.

Regina Blount-Williams, the agency's development director, said the May 28 event will aim to dispel myths about behavioral health by showing that symptoms and behaviors come in a variety of forms and have different impacts on people's lives.

"People have misconceptions about behavioral health," Blount-Williams said. "It's not just, 'I'm walking down the street talking to myself.'

"Mental health is anxiety, it's depression. We're all six degrees of separation because we all know someone who has been impacted by mental health."

The luncheon is expected to serve as a kickoff for future community forums to be hosted by Columbus Area Integrated Health Services.

"My hope and my vision is these types of events create good community conversations around these issues and helps de-stigmatize the issues," Penn said. "We're excited to be a partner with Eddie, to offer the luncheon and to get this message out.

"We're hoping the community comes out and supports us and that we can continue to have this type of dialogue."

Additional information about Columbus Area Integrated Health Services is available online at