By GRACE WALHUS
Staff Reporter 

Bringing mental health awareness to Worland

 

December 7, 2023



Worland Mayor Jim Gill brought together representatives from organizations around the community to learn about how they can bring a mental health awareness movement to Worland.

In attendance at a meeting on Nov. 30 were representatives from Washakie County School District #1, Bryant Funeral Home, the Washakie Prevention Coalition and others to hear about the mental health fair in Shell.

Started by the Big Horn County Citizens for Economic Development, the Mental Health Awareness Committee set out to “help our neighbors, relatives and friends by building awareness about available resources that can help our community become more responsive to the mental health needs of those in need of information, care and kindness,” said committee chairperson, Patty Flynn Elliot. The committee is composed of 29 volunteers.

Initial organizer of the committee, Stan Flitner, said, “We just think that mental health is like physical health, there is no difference. We need to have both to have human health.”

At their event on March 11, 2023, the committee saw over 100 people attend their meeting seeking information on mental health, according to Elliot. Those who attended were able to share stories, connect with each other and learn about strategies to help themselves and their loved ones, including breathing techniques, exercise and nutrition basics.

“It happened because we have a group of individuals in the community invested and passionate about helping

others […] It wasn’t about curing or solving the big picture of mental illness. It was about, how can we bring this conversation to the forefront? How can we make this less taboo, less of a stigma? To say, ‘hey, how are you feeling? Hey, do you want to go for a walk?’ You know, taking the time to actually take a breath together and reach out to each other in a more meaningful way,” said Elliot.

After the success of their event in Shell, the committee began to spread their hope of destigmatizing conversations about mental health to neighboring communities in the Big Horn Basin. Elliot said, “The ultimate goal of today is to inspire one of you to say, ‘hey, I want to lead this effort in our community.’ And I’m right there with you. We all are, we’re there for you and can help you along the way.” By bringing this conversation to the table, Elliot said, “It might change the direction of a life of someone that could be near and dear to us, or someone we don’t know at all. And that’s worth any afternoon, right? That’s worth any number of meetings to bring people together.”

Bryant Funeral Home funeral director Kendra Ware volunteered for the role of chairperson for Worland’s mental health awareness committee, and along with the help of several other community members, will begin planning a similar event for the Worland community.

Ware and owner of Bryant Funeral Home, Yvonne Bryant said, “We see a need for awareness and ability to express openly about mental health issues and to be able to help people.”

People interested in helping can contact Ware at 348-9890.

 
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