(story courtesy of the Lowdown – St. Croix Valley Area) – Communities in the St. Croix River Valley are starting a campaign—Make It OK in the Valley—to shrink the stigma of mental illness.
Leading the effort are HealthPartners hospitals and clinics in partnership with Washington County, St. Croix County, the Stillwater and White Bear Lake school districts, Andersen Corporation, Canvas Health, and Family Means and Youth Service Bureau. Radio, website, billboard and bus shelter ads will help to raise awareness of the campaign in the St. Croix Valley as well as in the Twin Cities and Goodhue County.
Marna Canterbury, director of community health for Lakeview Hospital, said, “This is a grassroots effort to start a conversation about mental illness and reduce the stigma. The goal of this campaign is to make it just as OK to talk about mental illness as we do about diabetes, heart disease and other physical illnesses.”
The Make It OK campaign is sponsored by HealthPartners, Regions Hospital Foundation, the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). More than 30,000 people have visited makeitok.org. The website features personal stories of people living with mental illness, tips on talking about mental illnesses and more. Five Make It OK documentaries on TPT won a Board of Governors Emmy Award in 2014.
In addition to the Make It OK campaign, HealthPartners hospitals and clinics have made a commitment to two other projects to improve care for patients with mental illness, including adding mental health services at Stillwater Medical Group’s primary care clinic and improving care for mental illness in emergency rooms at all HealthPartners hospitals in the St. Croix Valley (Amery, Hudson, Lakeview and Westfields hospitals).
“We support mental health in multiple ways and want to support our patients in getting the care that they need to treat mental illness,” said Ted Wegleitner, CEO of Lakeview Health and president of Lakeview. “If we can make it OK to talk about mental illness, more people will hopefully feel at ease when asking for help.”
Goodhue and Dakota counties also have Make It OK campaigns. The Goodhue program is supported by Red Wing Shoe Company, the YMCA, Mayo Clinic Health System, United Way, churches and schools. In Dakota County, more than 35 presentations have been delivered to schools, churches and community events.