Building Peace of Mind Pacific County
- - Barbara Bate
We’ve had more than a decade of supporting community mental health while we have been a local affiliate of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This fall our board and members decided to take a new name – Peace of Mind Pacific County - that is a better fit for our community and our mission. The phrase came initially from our gifted newsletter editor and Facebook expert Nikki Fortuna, and the board took to it immediately.
Our NAMI group has long centered on helping people of all ages to understand mental health issues and encourage our friends and ourselves to become and stay well. The words on the back of our 2016 Walk sweatshirts are in keeping with this approach: Brain Health Is for Everybody! Whether it’s depression, ADD, autism, Alzheimer’s, addiction, PTSD, Parkinson’s, or other brain-related problems, we have wanted to work with each other to move from isolation and shame to awareness, support, and community.
Monthly education programs and our May Wellness Walks have been part of that effort. But many people push away from “mental illness” language, though we all have struggles and needs in common. Now, as Peace of Mind Pacific County, we are setting our sight toward wider goals. Some are expansions of what is already being done. Others are new and dreamed-of projects that are becoming possible with new partners such as Great Rivers Behavioral Health Organization and Free by the Sea Recovery Center.
For years we’ve connected with WellSpring Community Network and Willapa Behavioral Health in various ways. Together we brought the first Mental Health First Aid workshops to adults, youth, and first responders. Our email Peninsula Health and Wellness Newsletter has also reached larger numbers of readers than our small NAMI membership could manage. Now we plan to expand access to the wonderful quarterly magazines BP Hope and Esperanza and have copies of the magazines and our newsletters in local clinics and offices.
The coming year offers a number of chances to build on our work locally and bring the Peace of Mind focus to other parts of Pacific County. We had a positive response to the first Wellness Recovery Action Plan workshop in November, and we hope to do additional WRAP workshops such as a Youth WRAP in the local middle and high school. WRAP helps people build on their own strengths, deal with hard situations, and develop supports for staying well. We also have a variety of Mental Health Ministries resources we would like to make available in local churches. We have been fully vetted and are now an associate member of Mental Health America, whose initiatives include free mental health screenings and supports on college campuses. And we hope to begin a WarmLine or ‘phone-a-friend’ for evenings and weekends, helping people connect with each other when they are isolated or discouraged. Each of these efforts will depend in part on funding, and partly on volunteers being available for particular projects. We are optimistic that our county’s widely known compassionate spirit will help bring many of these projects to fruition.