Mental Health Conference In Amagansett Wednesday Night

The East End Disabilities Group will host a mental health conference in Amagansett tonight at 7 as a first step toward identifying unmet mental health needs in East Hampton Town.

The discussion will focus on "what are we not doing in East Hampton" to help people facing depression and other mental illnesses, said Glenn Hall, the Disability Group's chairman. "This is a community that does not speak up," he said, so his group is trying to speak up for it.

With the recent suicides of high school students and recent graduates, there has been increased attention on the importance of mental health services. A task force, the South Fork Behavioral Health Initiative, was formed, and it includes state and local legislators, school administrators, and community members. State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. secured $150,000 in state money for increased mental health services here, and Legislator Jay Schneiderman brought an additional $17,500 to the table from Suffolk County.

Mr. Thiele is expected to attend tonight's meeting, as are doctors, community leaders, social workers, and other mental health professionals and consumers. In advance of the conference, the group distributed a questionnaire to help frame the discussion. It includes pointed questions to identify areas of weakness in the local system, asking respondents whether they or someone they know have difficulties finding a therapist, a psychologist to provide testing, a case manager, or a therapist who accepts their insurance or speaks their language, for example.

"It's a discussion that's needed," Mr. Hall said. The conference will be held in the community room of the St. Michael's apartments on Montauk Highway across the street from the Amagansett I.G.A.