Sister Lakes Brewing Company joins movement prioritizing mental health

SISTER LAKES — May is Mental Health Month and a local brewery will be crafting beer for the cause.

Starting Saturday, Sister Lakes Brewing Company, 92500 County Road 690, Dowagiac, will be brewing a collaborative beer “Things We Don’t Say” IPA: Craft Beer for Mental Health to raise mental health awareness and to help end the stigma associated with mental illness.

The project was created as a collaboration between Milwaukee-based craft breweries Eagle Park Brewing and Malteurop Malting Co, Hollingbery & Son Hop Co. of Yakima, Washington, and Hope for the Day, a nonprofit movement empowering the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education.

The beer’s release is in conjunction with Hope for the Day’s Shake the Stigma awareness campaign for Mental Health Month 2021. The campaign aims to help shift how mental health is approached by encouraging people to talk about their experiences and feelings, both good and bad, and to demonstrate the importance of asking for help when needed.

Sister Lakes Brewing Company is joining more than 167 breweries in seven countries around the world in support of the movement.

“To me, mental health is an issue that affects everyone,” said Brian Morin, co-owner of Sister Lakes Brewing Company. “We thought, why not use our space to start that conversation? Throughout history, people have come to pubs to gather and speak. A lot of people in our industry and community are hurting. It’s our responsibility to bring awareness.”

The IPA is based on a 6-percent IPA recipe from Eagle Park Brewing that has been shared with participating breweries. Proceeds from the sale of the IPA will be donated to Hope for the Day.

“It’s a hazy IPA,” Morin said. “It’s pretty standard but it has really cool hops in it.”

Established in 1949, Mental Health Month was founded to put a spotlight on the importance of mental health and wellness.

Bringing awareness to mental health is something that Tim Smith, executive director of Woodlands Behavioral Health Network, 960 M-60 East, Cassopolis, strives for every day.

“The stigma is something that our industry has been trying to break through for years and years,” he said. “In recent years, people have been less embarrassed to seek mental health support.”

According to a U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey conducted in January, roughly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic. A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health, including difficulty sleeping (36 percent) or eating (32 percent), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12 percent) and worsening chronic conditions (12 percent) due to stress induced by the pandemic.

“I think people are a little more anxious during this time,” Smith said. “Substance use is a more prevalent due to our overall isolation from each other.”

The Woodlands Behavioral Network hotline is available 24 hours a day at (269) 445-2451 for anyone experiencing a psychiatric crisis.

“We really want people to be aware that we are here,” Smith said. “There’s no timeline on where you are going to feel certain things. We will help in the most appropriate way that we can.”

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