Women’s Fund of Central Indiana announces mental health partnerships with cities, colleges

On May 31, at a press event on Monument Circle, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, a special interest fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation, announced that it has convened community partners to join the national Campaign to Change Direction on mental health. Nine cities, 46 college campuses, plus hospitals, health departments, chambers, foundations and businesses have pledged to advocate for open, honest conversation about mental health in Central Indiana.

According to Mental Health America, in Indiana, 20 percent of Hoosier adults live with mental illness, 12 percent of youth have had at least one depressive episode in the past year. And in 2015, more Hoosiers died by suicide than by car accidents.

“We also know that depression is twice as common in women as men,” said Jennifer Pope Baker, executive director of Women’s Fund. “By removing barriers to good mental health for the Central Indiana community, we are fulfilling our mission to create more options and opportunities for women and girls, as well as their families.”

Central Indiana Campaign to Change Direction partners include the nine cities of Indianapolis, Carmel, Crawfordsville, Fishers, Greenfield, Noblesville, Shelbyville, Westfield and Zionsville; local universities, including Butler University, DePauw University, Indiana University, IUPUI, Ivy Tech, Marian University; Martin University, Purdue University and University of Indianapolis; Central Indiana Community Foundation and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund; Indy Public Safety Foundation; Indiana Family and Social Services Administration; the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Marion County Public Health Department; Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health and Riverview Health; Eli Lilly and Company; and the Alpha Mu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a historically black sorority and the second largest professional women’s association in the Indianapolis.

As a first step in the campaign, partners will work to help ensure that every Central Indiana resident knows how to recognize and respond to the five signs of emotional suffering within five years. The signs that someone is in emotional pain and might need help include personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness. According to a news release, people who recognize these signs should show compassion, empathy and a willingness to find a solution when the affected person may not have the will or drive to help herself.

Community partners are also developing their own plans:

Indianapolis is working to implement Mayor Joe Hogsett’s Criminal Justice Reform plan to divert those suffering from poor mental health and addiction from the criminal justice system and instead, connect them with treatment and wraparound services. Mayor Hogsett has proclaimed May 31, 2017 as Change Mental health Day and is encouraging all 850,000 residents to learn the five signs that may indicate someone is in emotional pain

Fishers plans to reach its 87,887 residents at community events and beyond. Mayor Scott Fadness and city leaders have already begun implementing a detailed strategic plan that includes an education program for Fishers police and fire departments, a partnership with Hamilton Southeastern Schools and public education through a Stigma Free Fishers at community events. Mayor Fadness has also proclaimed May 31, Campaign to Change Mental Health Day.

Carmel kicked-off Campaign to Change Direction on May 26 at tis annual Memorial Day Ceremony where 250 local veterans and senior citizens received information about the five signs of emotional suffering and what to do if you recognize them. Advocacy will continue throughout the city’s offices, social media outlets and news releases, as well as at other community events. Mayor Jim Brainard has also proclaimed May 31, Campaign to Change Mental Health Day.

Alpha Mu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority will expand its current initiative that raises awareness of mental illness among diverse populations with low utilization of mental health services.

Martin University is working with organizations and members of the Martindale-Brightwood community to develop the Martindale-Brightwood Education Zone. The zone’s five initiatives include connecting the residents of the Martindale-Brightwood community and Martin’s 400 students with mental wellness services through a network of partnerships, including a proposed new mental wellness facility and other community-based resources, including creating a heightened sense of awareness of the five signs of emotional suffering.

Ivy Tech Community College is committed to sharing the five signs of emotional suffering and raising awareness of mental health to its 110,00 students and 8,000 employees statewide.

For more, visit womensfund.org.