For more than 2 generations, Mental Health America of Licking County has been educating our friends and neighbors about mental health and mental illnesses and how to respond to the challenges of daily life.
MHA in the Classroom
Initially, MHA services were focused on providing access to treatment, support for people who were confined to state hospitals and for the recently discharged. Five decades later, preventing stress-induced mental health conditions and the behaviors that can come from them is the focus of much of our school-based programming.
Beginning with the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP, est. 1984) and I.C. Hope—Don’t Duck Mental Health (est. 2004), staff and volunteers teach age-appropriate lessons on how children can stay safe, respond to violence and better manage their emotions.
In middle and high school classes, the award-winning Prevent Assault & Violence Education (PAVE, est. 1994) program teaches age-appropriate lessons about responding to bullying, dealing with social pressure, how to think critically about media messages regarding gender and race. The YES Clubhouse (est. 1992) provides a safe haven for after school hours and summer hours where children between the ages of 11 and 18 can focus on scholastic success while they build critical life skills to prepare for life’s next steps.
For Parents and Families
MHALC also offers a variety of programming aimed at parents and families. There are all manner of stresses on families that are only made worse by an uncertain economy. The ParenTalk newsletter program helps new parents through the first 5 years of their newborn’s life as they work to raise a mentally healthy child. As the children continue to grow, MHALC also offers a variety of programs aimed at enhancing communication between parent and child and laying the groundwork for the child’s future success.
For people who experience mental health conditions, MHALC provides a variety of support services. Peer-led support groups are offered in Newark and Pataskala for diagnosis-specific conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. The Compeer program (est. 1996) is designed to promote wellness and social integration for persons working on their recovery. Compeer members participate in service projects, attend community events and help one another.
In addition to providing a diversity of programs and services, MHALC staff and volunteers also organize a community effort to provide Easter cheer to persons in custodial care, nursing homes, hospitals, detention facilities and who receive Meals-on-Wheels. The Eve Elliott Easter Basket project annually provides more than 3000 baskets which are delivered throughout Licking County.
Mental Health in the Workplace
In addition to understanding mental health and mental illness issues, today’s workforce must confront a variety of stress-related topics ranging from working with difficult people to managing time and dealing with change. MHALC is routinely called into the break rooms and board rooms of Licking County to provide this valuable training to all organizational levels.
MHALC staffers are also active participants in a wide variety of community initiatives designed to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens. Participating in Community Capitalism, Our Futures in Licking County, the Children & Families First Council and the Licking County Wellness Coalition continues a tradition of community engagement that has been part of the organization’s DNA from the very beginning.
From its inception, volunteers have played a vital role in the development of MHA and its service to the community. That tradition continues to this day with volunteers actively involved in every aspect of the organization. From presenting important lessons about child abuse prevention, to working with families who want to escape the cycle of poverty or just being a friend to a person who experiences a mental health condition, MHA volunteers make a difference in the lives of the people of Licking County. In a recent survey of those volunteers, 95% experienced an increase in knowledge of mental health and mental illnesses and a decrease in stigma associated with those conditions.
Since 1953, Mental Health America has been committed to Licking County and its most valuable asset: its people.