The Greene County Health Department is asking for help from the public in its effort to change the stigma around mental health.
Last year as a part of the Health Department’s I-Plan, or Illinois Project Assessment of Needs, The Greene County Health Department formed focus groups throughout the county to get direct feedback on what the top health issues were that impact Greene County residents.
Public Health Administrator for Greene County, Molly Peters, says mental health and access to mental health assistance were consistently brought up as a major health concern for citizens taking part in the focus groups.
Peters says the health department is working to create stronger messaging to help reduce the stigma around mental health and are putting together a document as well as a video to raise awareness of the impact mental health has on the community, so they are asking members of the public to share their stories.
“We are looking for people who are willing to share because it makes it more of a community message that, gosh things are existing here in Greene County and people are not alone. A lot of the time they don’t even know what it is that they are having issues with. Maybe it’s anxiety, but maybe once someone shares that they have had anxiety and they are seeking help for it, they can share symptoms and signs.
And that can broaden individual’s eyes to where they now know- ok, I’m also having that problem and maybe I should seek help, or maybe there are other things I can do kind of reduce those feelings. So we are sharing that message.”
Peters says anyone willing to share their story can contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 217-942-6961, extension 101.
She says they will be working to collect information from volunteers and scheduling times to connect over the next week. She says just hearing people’s stories of what services they needed during their time of crisis helps her department to be more aware and ready for resources.
“We are beginning kind of a coalition, and we have folks out there trying to assess what the coalition can do, assess what we need to do to start it up, and so we are working on that side of things as well. Just kind of gathering the troops to kind of identity what it is the community needs. And there are several things that we know are needed that are actionable. We are going to be forming the committee, sort of coalition soon and going forward.”
Peters says even those who are hesitant to have their story out in the community are invited to participate, as the personal information can be kept private, and their experience will be shared as anonymous in the messaging.
She says there is one overarching message that the Greene County Health Department wants to share in working to expand awareness and accessibility to mental health needs in the area.
“I think that’s just that you’re not alone you know, and there’s a lot of people in this community and throughout that experience times of crisis and times of need, and we all need to be there for each other.”
To find out more information, go to the Greene County Health Department website at greenecountyhd.org.