Deaths from mental health related issues have doubled since 2010. The ages are expanding in both directions with younger teens committing suicide while there are higher numbers of deaths in middle years. There doesn’t seem to be one or two reasons for the increase in the numbers of suicide, which makes the issue even harder to handle. With these growing numbers, it is no surprise that many Rotarians are involved in looking for answers and offering help in many different ways.
The Rotary Club of Golden became one of the District’s committed clubs to address these issues in Golden. The Mental Wellness Committee was formed in 2017, and the first thing they did was to assess the level of need and activity in the Golden community. Committee members met with everyone possible working in the field, from school therapists, front-line personnel, Golden police, and mental health clinicians, to understand what a group of caring, committed, but inexperienced individuals could do to meet the growing need.
The Committee started with sponsoring a series of Mental Health First Aid classes taught by Jefferson Center for Mental Health, working with elementary schools to build and install “cool down corners,” and distributing to all schools in the area some basic information about mental health issues and where and how to get help in person locally or by phone.
In the process of working within the mental health field, the committee soon learned there was no shortage of knowledge and tools to help. As the Committee continued its work, two roadblocks to people getting more help became apparent. The top roadblock is the stigma associated with mental health help. The second roadblock is the ability to connect the existing resources with those in need, sharing which ones are free and which have costs.
With that awareness the Mental Wellness Committee decided to put on the Community Wellness Fair, a public event promoting healthy lifestyles for the whole family by increasing access to resources around physical well-being, mental well-being, and better parenting through exhibitors and workshops. In May 2018, the event was held in Golden High School that included a full day of educational opportunities, an inspiring message from the well known keynote speaker JC Jackman, toys and games for little children, and exhibitors offering a wide variety of tools for better health.
A total of twelve classes covering related topics were presented in a format that allowed an individual to attend three different presentations during the day. The movie Inside Out also was shown followed by a discussion on emotions. This was particularly focused on younger members. The day also included a free lunch for all attendees. Forty-one exhibitors were on display ready to share their expertise with an attentive audience.
Here is some of the positive feedback we received:
Christopher Reed, psychologist with Golden High School said: “…I just wanted to take some time to thank you for bringing the Wellness Fair to the Golden Community. My students who took part in the LGBTQ presentation felt empowered after their presentation.”
From Paul Evans, an exhibitor from HealthOne, we heard: “It was a fantastic event! Thank you and the Golden Rotary for allowing us to participate and support the promotion and awareness for mental and physical wellness.”
Tremendous support came from Golden High School, Jefferson County Public School District R-1, Jefferson County Health and Human Services, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Jefferson County Parent Teachers Association, SCL Health, and twelve financial sponsors, including a grant from D5450, and so much more. The feedback has been exceptionally positive, from exhibitors, instructors, and attendees. Needless to say, the Committee is already meeting with the school and county to design the 2019 Community Wellness Fair.