College students at Higher Latrobe Senior Excessive obtained kisses after they entered the varsity on Valentine’s Day final 12 months.
Members of the varsity’s Aevidum Membership handed out Hershey’s Kisses chocolate candies as a gesture of caring and inclusion for his or her fellow college students.
The vacation could be a unhappy one for some, famous Jackie Rider, a college counselor and adviser for the membership, which appears to be like to create an environment of acceptance amongst college students whereas elevating consciousness of psychological well being points and suicide prevention.
The sweet, Rider stated, conveyed the message that “you matter and also you’re vital whether or not you may have a major different in your life or not.”
The coed membership, fashioned 4 years in the past, obtained one among 5 Improvements Awards introduced by Greensburg-based Mental Health America of Southwestern PA throughout a program held by way of Zoom this week. The membership was honored for its efforts on the prevention entrance of psychological well being.
Psychological Well being America makes use of outreach and schooling to fight the stigma related to psychological sickness. The group additionally introduced awards in 4 different classes:
Training — Phil Koch, former govt director of the Group Basis of Westmoreland County and now vice chairman of coverage and neighborhood affect with The Pittsburgh Basis;
Advocacy — Susanne Cole, president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Pressley Ridge, which gives psychological well being companies, foster care, residential remedy and specialised education schemes;
Restoration — Dr. Mark Fuller, medical director of restoration medication for Allegheny Well being Community’s Heart for Inclusion Well being;
Lifetime Achievement — Patricia Valentine, retired govt deputy director for built-in program companies with the Allegheny County Division of Human Companies.
Accepting the Prevention Award, along with Rider, was Adison Lemmon, a member of the Higher Latrobe Class of 2021 who lately was honored by Latrobe Metropolis Council for her management of Aevidum and for different features of her energetic college profession. Lemmon stated Aevidum, which was based by Lancaster County college students, has “had a big effect on me. It helps us turn out to be extra snug about ourselves.”
The membership’s Latin-derived title means, “I’ve obtained your again.” Its brand incorporates a yellow silhouette of a hand.
Whereas the membership’s actions have been curtailed through the covid-19 pandemic, Rider stated a brand new “All people Wants a Hand” marketing campaign is deliberate throughout Could, Psychological Well being Consciousness Month. College students could write optimistic messages and their names on prints of the Aevidum hand to enter a present card drawing. The “palms” then might be gathered for a show on the college.
Koch earned reward for having developed the WestCo Nonprofit Community, a discussion board that permits leaders of community-minded teams to share concepts and pursue joint initiatives.
Koch, who started his profession as a instructor, famous a recent study underscored the significance of coordinating efforts amongst Westmoreland County’s human service organizations. That’s extra vital than ever, he stated, now that the pandemic has lower into income for these suppliers whereas growing the demand for his or her companies.
Native foundations, he stated, “have the obligation to offer our social and human capital, not simply our monetary capital, to help the nonprofit neighborhood.”
Cole stated her group needs to see households have elevated entry to wanted companies whereas striving for honest and equitable entry for all races.
“Through the pandemic we’ve seen a rise within the want for psychological well being companies,” she stated, in addition to companies for these with substance abuse points.
Earlier than taking up her most up-to-date position, in June 2011, Valentine spent 13 years as deputy director for the Workplace of Behavioral Well being within the Allegheny County Division of Human Companies and 17 years working within the county’s human companies supplier system.
She stated there was a serious enchancment within the provision of psychological well being companies, with purchasers now taking an energetic position “because the leaders of their remedy crew. They work on what they need to work on, not simply what any person else thinks they should work on.”
On the similar time, she stated, the psychological well being system must do “a significantly better job of becoming a member of with our communities, turning into a part of the neighborhood.”
Fuller’s background within the subject of dependancy medication and behavioral well being consists of roles as each a clinician and as a doctor govt working for a number of managed care organizations. He has a long-standing appointment as an adjunct affiliate professor of psychiatry with Drexel College School of Drugs and West Virginia College College of Drugs, the place he accomplished his medical coaching.
Fuller famous that the pandemic has subjected folks to extended stress and trauma with out the reduction valve supplied by socializing or attending a sporting occasion or film. “Overdoses are up and all kinds of admissions to hospitals are up,” he stated. “That’s going to proceed; it’s not a one-and-done. There’s nonetheless a number of work to be performed.”
On a optimistic notice, he stated Allegheny Well being Community has partnered with the Metropolis of Pittsburgh to offer cell groups that may reply to disaster conditions the place psychological well being and social companies are extra acceptable than police intervention.
“There may be no well being with out psychological well being,” concluded Laurie Barnett Levine, CEO of Psychological Well being America of Southwestern PA.