Black River Memorial Hospital (BRMH) understands the need to support the mental health needs of Jackson County. It began with the last two community health needs assessments from which mental health was one of the top three initiatives BRMH would address. Due to a lack of behavioral health providers in the area and after years of consideration and foresight, a clinic was built on the BRMH campus. The Black River Healthcare Clinic now offers behavioral health specialists as well as primary care providers.
Promoting these new services was a challenge as the clinic opened in July 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though this deprived us of the opportunity to share our new facility through tours and a public open house, a multi-faceted mental health campaign was launched.
A portion of the campaign was aimed at supporting the mental health needs of youth in the Black River Falls area. BRMH partnered with the Boys & Girls Club-Lunda Center to raise funds to support the mental health programming at the Club and provided the lead gift of $7,500. A postcard was mailed to 20,000 residents of Jackson County challenging the community to match those funds. In total, approximately $10,000 was raised which made a significant impact on the mental health programming the Boys and Girls Club could provide.
Additionally, BRMH provided guided mental health journals to each child at the club. These journals provided them a way to record their thoughts and feelings while allowing them to reflect on the things for which they were most grateful. The center director spoke highly of the journals, which were used daily in their programming and helped initiate conversations with some members of the club who until then, had a hard time opening up. He also stated the use of the journals will continue long into the future.
Nearly half of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime. A challenge faced by providers is the stigma surrounding asking for help. At one time or another, most people have had feelings of depression, anxiety, or hopelessness, and these emotions can be overwhelming and begin to control one's life.
To help combat the stigma surrounding mental health, a billboard was erected displaying the message “Helping You Remove the Label” to reinforce that mental illness is not something to hide or be ashamed of.
Dr. Esteban Miller, chief medical officer at BRMH, stated: “Treating mental health is no different than getting a physical. It’s routine and it’s important because a sound mind and a healthy body go hand-in-hand.”