The Republic County Resource Council has been around for many years, helping residents of Republic County find resources that are available to them in times of need, whether that is groceries, fuel for medical trips, financial assistance, etc. Recently, the council formed a sub-committee called The Republic County Mental Health Coalition.
This coalition focuses on bringing mental health awareness and education to the local schools in the county. “We were awarded a grant through the Kansas Communities Suicide Prevention, which has allowed us to bring Youth Mental Health First Aid training to the staff of both Republic County Junior/Senior High School and Pike Valley High School,” said Karla Awalt, the treasurer of the coalition.
They will also offer Teen Mental Health First Aid to the sophomores of both schools, and Question Persuade, Respond to the seventh-grade classes for the next four years. The coalition sent a therapist from Republic County Hospitals Senior Life Solutions to a training session back in May. This training taught safe and effective ways to handle mental health crises, both physically and emotionally. Thanks to this training, they are now trained to teach classes on the Handle with Care Method. Part of the grant will help bring a class to the local community members as well.
The coalition is currently comprised of ten members. “We are a young coalition and very open to new ideas! I recently attended the annual meeting for the Kansas Suicide Prevention Coalition in Wichita, Kansas and received so many ideas on what we could do next!” shared Awalt. She says she is very interested in The Zero Suicide Initiative that has been going on in Douglas County for the last year and she is hoping to bring some information on that to the next coalition meeting and see if they can get their own initiative started.
The Coalition wants community members to know that they are an available resource. “We’re so excited to get our name out in the community, to let people know that we are here and we are trying to change the narrative and stigma surrounding mental health!”