Tuesday, October 17, 2017 - Conversation gets people talking about mental health

About 200 people gathered at Stillwater Middle School on Oct. 12 for the Make It OK Community Conversation. Make It OK is a campaign to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) presenter John Moe spoke at the event. He hosted the first season of the wildly successful Hilarious World of Depression podcasts – sponsored by HealthPartners and Make It OK – earlier in the year. Season two launched in late September. Moe said he continues to hear daily from listeners who find inspiration from the comedians who have dealt with depression.

The free event was made possible thanks to generous sponsorship by the Stillwater Area Foundation. Maria Reamer, Foundation Chair, said: “We believe that addressing mental health needs in our community is pressing. We jumped at the chance to help make this event happen in Stillwater.”

It was the St. Croix Valley’s second Community Conversation. The first was held at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin, in March. It’s all part of the Make It OK campaign to encourage open conversation about mental illness to reduce stigma.

“What I always try to tell people is, ‘You have the power to actually do something about this mental health crisis in America, and that is to have a conversation,’” Moe told the audience. “These are tough times that we live in, but you can do something about it. You can talk. So tonight, tomorrow – talk to someone, ask them how they are doing; tell them how you are doing.”

Moe also led a panel discussion on the mental health scene in the St. Croix Valley. He was joined by four panelists:

  • Pat Rogers (Family Means)
  • Laura Weber (Canvas Health)
  • Marty Richards, MD (Emergency Medicine, St. Croix Valley HealthPartners hospitals)
  • Lowell Johnson (Washington County Public Health)

“Mental health needs to be on our radar screen as a top health priority in our community,” said Johnson, Director of Washington County Public Health. “Public Health is trying to respond to it, like cancer and heart disease and diabetes. It’s another disease that needs to be treated in that same manner.”

Guests signed a pledge to Make It OK and got facts on area resources.

“The stigma of mental health is real and it’s alive right here in the St. Croix Valley,” said Ted Wegleitner, President and CEO of Lakeview Health. “The goal of our Make It OK campaign and tonight’s event is to start the conversation by telling stories and putting a human face on this important issue.”

Panel discussion at the Make It OK Community Conversation. Left to right - John Moe and the panel: Pat Rogers (Family Means), Laura Weber (Canvas Health), Marty Richards, MD (Emergency Medicine, St. Croix Valley HealthPartners hospitals), Lowell Johnson (Washington County Public Health).

MPR presenter John Moe at the Make it OK Community Conversation at Stillwater Middle School on Oct. 12. 

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