While national Mental Health Awareness Day has come and gone, we know that every day is critically important to recognize the importance of our mental health! Promoting the awareness of mental health is especially important for people who are affected by substance use disorders (SUD) and who are working very hard on their recovery journeys together. Rise Up Central Kansas is a task force under the Central Kansas Partnership with a mission of growing a resilient community for all through healing, hope and understanding. Rise Up's vision is community healing for all. As an Increase the Reach vaccine equity grantee, Rise Up Central Kansas provides services to help people in their recovery efforts. This is done in various ways, including holding mobile meetings, providing support by walking beside people on their paths to sobriety and delivering trainings for family members, caregivers and organizations to create resilience. What better way then for Mental Health Awareness Day to be celebrated than having Rise Up Central Kansas' project coordinator Amy Ferguson and Peer Navigators show compassion in action at the Barton County Courthouse Square on May 23, 2023. The Mental Health Awareness Day event included various informational booths, food, fun games, a drum circle and bounce house. Sponsors for the event included United Healthcare, Aetna Better Health of Kansas, Valley Hope, and Sunflower Health Plan. Community partners who participated included: Rise Up Central Kansas, Catholic Charities, Rhythm Making, Kansas Children's Service League (KCSL), Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Heart of Kansas, Youth crew, Family Crisis Center, Smoky Hills PBS, Kansas Department of Children and Families, Communities Organizing to Promote Equity (COPE)/Local Health Equity Action Team (LHEAT), Mindfulness Yoga and Harvest America Corporation. ITR project coordinator Amy Ferguson said, "Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Day was important for Rise Up Central Kansas to do. We are proud to be part of many stakeholders to help build universal awareness of resilience and trauma through education, connections and engagement opportunities. We work collaboratively with the Center for Counseling and Consultation, the City of Great Bend, ESSDAK, the Oxford House, USD 428 Great Bend Public Schools as well as people with lived experiences of substance abuse disorder, poverty and mental health issues. We're committed to creating a strong network for our peer navigators, families, individuals, schools, businesses, health care and beyond."
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