More than 300 people gathered recently in downtown Great Bend to learn about local mental-health resources – and have a good time while they were at it, said Holly Bowyer, leader of the planning committee for Mental Health Awareness Day on behalf of The Center for Counseling & Consultation.
“We heard so many positive comments from visitors and community partners,” Bowyer said. “They appreciated the staff at The Center for making this happen. A large majority of our employees contributed to this success.”
The special day on May 23 at Jack Kilby Square was the 10th annual event that showcased about 25 vendors. Food, games, and arts and crafts also were on the agenda in an educational and fun environment.
“The Center’s staff and all the vendors realize the importance of sharing mental-health information,” Bowyer commented. “This event is the perfect avenue for letting people know about resources they may not be aware of.”
Julie Kramp, executive director of The Center, said the staff always wants to provide this “easy-going atmosphere. It is the best feeling when you see how many people are involved; it reminds us of the huge scope of this topic.
“It also is wonderful to see all the vendors who represent local providers that truly care about what they do. It’s an incredible feeling. We couldn’t do this without everyone at The Center pitching in and all the vendors who support efforts to reduce the stigma of mental-health issues.”
One of those vendors was Youth Crew, a program under the umbrella of Juvenile Services. Tyler Morton, program advocate, noted that “mental health plays a huge role in our program because local resources directly affect Youth Crew members. We see how they progress on a day-to-day basis with local community support.
“Mental Health Awareness Day gives them a first-hand look into all the resources available in Barton and surrounding counties. We have team members from The Center that participate in Youth Crew and sit on our stakeholder board.”
Marissa Woodmansee, Juvenile Services director, said she appreciates The Center’s special event because “it is a great way for our community to come together and share in a loud voice that ‘it is okay to not be okay.’ Together, we can break the stigma of mental illness, and bring hope and healing to all in need.”
Sponsors for the event were Valley Hope, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, Sunflower Health Plan and Aetna Better Health of Kansas.
The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.