Last time we discussed collaboration and its power in accomplishing goals and projects for our community. Recently, Ann Voelz, IU student in psychology and summer intern for the White County United Way, discussed collaboration and pro-social/altruistic behavior with White County United Way Junior Board.
As we discussed last week, collaboration is working together for a common cause or purpose. Taking you back to sociology and psychology classes, prosocial behavior is performing an act that helps someone else. Altruistic behavior is helping someone even when it hurts you or has no benefit for you.
There are various theories of why people help others. One is the social exchange theory which can be summed up, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” By helping someone, you put them in your debt, and they owe you. Princess Diana summed this up by saying, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you,” which is very similar to the idea of paying it forward. “I will help you, but I expect to paid back sometime in the future by you or someone else.” Another theory is the idea of empathy-altruism when you help someone with no expectations of being paid back or receiving anything in return.
In her presentation Ann mentioned that people in large groups are less likely to help an individual. Research has shown that the larger the crowd of observers or bystanders, the less likely individuals are to help. They might think that if no one else is reacting, it must not be a problem, or in a group they feel less personal responsibility to act.
Ann presented the idea that there five things that need to happen to cause a person to offer assistance. An individual must:
One of our first jobs was to make the community aware that substance use is a problem in our community. Through presentations, social media, and billboard campaigns, we have worked to increase awareness of substance use, and create a sense of urgency as we present statistics and stories of those ensnared in addiction. The next step was to help people realize that even though they may not have a personal connection to someone mis-using substances, their involvement would benefit the community at large by increasing resources to help achieve and maintain recovery, and helping former users become healthy, productive citizens. Research shows that if someone has a personal connection to the problem (which one in four families does), they are more likely to help. We have found that to be true for our work in the United Council on Opioids, as many of our taskforce members have experienced the difficulties of substance use personally or through a loved one.
Once people realize there is a problem and solving it would benefit the community, the next job is showing them how their skill set, expertise, resources and knowledge could contribute to the solution. The challenge is that people are less likely to volunteer in a large meeting and especially in a virtual meeting.
And the final step is assisting them in plugging into the work. When people believe their actions will make an impact on others, make progress towards a valued goal, change the community for the better, they are more likely to help.
If you are interested in joining our work to increase awareness, access to services, and helping those in recovery, please contact our United Way director at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever cause is close to your heart, get involved in community efforts and benefit our community. Working together, we make a difference.
In recent days we have heard a lot about collaboration. Scientists, physicians, and researchers are collaborating to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Together they can learn more and learn faster than working on their own.
Musicians are collaborating (referred to as “Collab” by the hip crowd!) Even cultural dinosaurs like me remember musical collaborations such as “We are the World,” “Farm Aid,” and the Coca Cola campaign “I’d like to teach the world to sing.”
I have learned about the power of collaboration during my terms as an AmeriCorps member. In the past, I have limited myself to only attempting that which I could complete on my own. I avoided many tasks, overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge or experience, not knowing how to even begin. Of course, I could find information on the internet, Googling how-to videos, muddling through, but even armed with my newly acquired knowledge, I balked at the complexity of the task. To quote a line from Gone with the Wind, “I don’t know nothing about birthing no babies!” But an important insight from my AmeriCorps work is that I don’t have to! When I work in collaboration with others, I bring what I know, others bring their knowledge and experience, and together we can accomplish great things for our community.
Collaboration occurs when a group of people come together and share their expertise to achieve a common goal or purpose. Everyone brings strengths, skill sets, connections, and knowledge to the table. There is power in teamwork, networking and connections. None of us is as smart/strong/effective as all of us. Collaboration puts the United Way mantra to #LiveUnited into action. Collaboration makes it possible to achieve so much more than one person alone, sharing resources, information, and responsibility to make the work less overwhelming, and more effective.
There are many benefits to collaboration. Collaboration brings people together for a common purpose, breaking down barriers and increasing connections. Collaboration increases problem solving by including a variety of perspectives. Collaboration opens up new avenues of communication, as well as opportunities to learn from each other. When tasks are large and complex, working together allows the work to be divided, sharing the burden, and seeing the problem/task more clearly. Collaboration increases sustainability and decreases burnout.
In February of 2019, when the United Council on Opioids (UCO) began, I had no idea what we might be able to accomplish. The goals were lofty: to increase awareness and reduce the stigma of substance use, reduce the number of substance use deaths, and increase opportunities for treatment and recovery. The obstacles and complexity of the issue seemed insurmountable. But working together, the taskforce members brought ideas, enthusiasm, connections, resources, and information that move the work forward. The UCO is accomplishing its goals. The conversation and attitudes around substance use are changing. Our community is gaining an understanding of substance use and need for services to help our family members and friends recover from this this complex disease.
As we continue to collaborate, deepening our connections, and expanding our communication, we will continue to increase momentum and move forward, not just on this issue, but on all important issues in our community.
Last week we discussed Mental Health America, one of the local agencies providing mental health support and education for our community. This week we will look at National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI) which has been serving the Lafayette area for over 32 years. NAMI’s purpose is to provide education, support, and advocacy for those living with mental illness and their families and loved ones, striving to end the stigma and raise awareness about mental illness, showing individuals and their loved ones how to live successfully with the symptoms of mental illness.
Sheri Moore, Executive Director, and Joy Mabbit, Program Director are excited to be engaged with individuals and agencies in White County and offer community outreach, support groups, training services, and a HelpLine.
NAMI’s Community Outreach services endeavor to increase awareness and support for those with symptoms of mental illness and their families.
Ending the Silence is a fifty minute in-school presentation designed to teach middle and high school students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to recognize the early warning signs, and the importance of acknowledging those warning signs.
In Our Own Voice speakers share compelling and personal testimonies of living with and overcoming the challenges posed by mental illness. By broadening people’s knowledge of mental illness, this presentation replaces misunderstanding, fear and judgment with insight, awareness and acceptance.
FaithNet provides information about resources to educate clergy and congregations on mental health issues to create stronger support systems and welcoming, empathetic faith communities for people living with serious mental illness.
Family & Friends is a free 90-minute or four-hour seminar that informs people who have loved ones with a mental health condition how to best support them. It’s also an opportunity to meet other people in similar situations and gain community support.
Stigma Free Company equips companies with the tools, resources, assets and information they need to promote mental health awareness in the workplace.
In addition, NAMI facilitates Support Groups to engage and encourage individuals with serious mental illness and their families and loved ones.
The Connection Support group provides a structured atmosphere for individuals to bring their problems and obtain support from their peers. Meetings are led by NAMI-trained individuals who are in recovery themselves. They understand the daily challenges and can offer encouragement and support. These classes are held in Lafayette, Monticello and Tippecanoe County Community Corrections.The Family Support Group supports the one in five families affected by severe mental illnesses. Trained facilitators who have experienced mental illness in their own families guide other families through the process of understanding and coping with mental illness.
NAMI Peer to Peer Class is an eight-week class for adults with mental health conditions. The course is designed to encourage growth, healing and recovery among participants.
NAMI Family-to-Family Class is an eight-week class for families, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. Designated as an evidence-based program by SAMHSA, it facilitates a better understanding of mental health conditions to increase coping skills and empower participants to become advocates for their family members.
In conjunction with MHA and other agencies, NAMI offers an intensive five-day Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement officers to learn how to identify and de-escalate a mental illness crisis, which has been shown to significantly reduce jail commitments and prosecutions.
NAMI offers a free HelpLine: 1-800-950-6264 or email@example.com, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. HelpLine volunteers answer questions, offer support and provide practical next steps in dealing with mental illness needs and concerns.
The NAMI website offers an online resource directory related to mental illness, FAQ’s, connections to Warm Lines and much more. For more information, please visit https://www.nami-wci.org/ or call (765) 423-6939.
With no end to the CoVid Crisis in sight, more and more sources are indicating the increased need for mental health and substance use services. I am happy to report that several agencies in the area are meeting the challenge of this critical need. Today we will discuss the services of Mental Health America (MHA). Next week we will look at National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI). Both agencies work to educate and support people involved with mental health issues and their families.
Recently I had a Conversation with Erin Perdue, Director of Engagement and Education for Mental Health America (MHA) Wabash Valley Region, about their services to people in our area. She offered this insight, ‘In suicide prevention training we learn just how important listening can be. Listening is the power tool that can help when someone is feeling down, blue, bad, or having thoughts of suicide. When you check in on your friends, as we ebb and flow in and out of social distancing or isolation, just ask how they are doing and then devote your time to just sit with them and listen. Let them talk. Let them tell their story. Often times, when someone can vent or talk out their worries or troubles, they will feel much better. You offering a listening ear can be a calming salve to their fears and depression. You can then be sure to share the Crisis Line number for those times when you aren’t available.’
Mental Health America is dedicated to eradicating the stigma of mental illness and advocating for the rights of those facing mental health challenges, providing public mental health educational programs, information and referrals, and support groups, to those confronting mental health challenges and their loved ones.
MHA provides a variety of services to support those struggling with mental health and substance use issues. They operate the MHA Crisis Center Hotline, Mental Health Navigators, support groups, training and education services, and online mental health screening assessments.
According to Erin, as people emerge from isolation, the MHA 24/7 Crisis Hotline (765-742-0244) is a valuable resource. Individuals can call or text this 24/7 hotline for assistance with any crisis including thoughts of suicide. Compassionate, trained volunteers will listen, support, and connect callers to resources and emergency service, if needed. Erin suggests putting the number into your phone to have it easily accessible.
Another important service offered by MHA is the Mental Health Navigator. If you suspect you or a loved one may have a mental health issue and aren’t sure where to start, the MHA Mental Health navigator can guide you through the process. During the appointment, the navigator will do a brief assessment to determine the level of need, connect the client to the appropriate services, help schedule an appointment, and assist in working through insurance/payment issues. The navigator can also stay connected to the client to offer support and encouragement through the process. Navigators are not therapists, but guides who walk alongside their clients until they can meet with a clinician.
MHA also offers support groups related to bipolar, depression and anxiety, survivors of sexual assault, parents of children with ADD, and suicide survivors. Currently these groups are meeting via Zoom.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Crisis Hotline, information on online training is now available through the MHA website. To learn more about all these services, please visit MHAWV.ORG, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 765-742-1800.
Next time we will discuss NAMI services.
Lynn Saylor is the AmeriCorps member working with the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative alongside the White County United Way. She is a major facilitator of the United Council on Opioids serving White County and a regular contributor to local media.