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Breaking the Stigma Around Mental Health and Wellness

Cabarrus County is a community dedicated to collaboration and collective well-being. As a Regional Director, I have the privilege of serving this remarkable community and witnessing its commitment firsthand through United Way of Greater Charlotte’s Mental Wellness Collaborative.

Working together to reduce stigma around mental health issues, the Wellness Collaborative provides crisis preparation and intervention tools and mental health resources to community members and organizations.

The Wellness Collaborative consists of five funded agencies in Cabarrus County:

●     Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas

●     El Puente Hispano

●     Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest

●     Mental Health America of Central Carolinas

●     The  S.T.U.D.I.O

These organizations excel in the community, offering training and direct services to families in Cabarrus County. The Collaborative is unique, providing a space for these dedicated organizations to share ideas, pool resources, and maximize their impact.

When speaking to Elizabeth Hutchins, Area Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas, she shared that she loves being able to work with and lean on the other organizations within the Wellness Collaborative.

“When I need a resource or a volunteer I know I can quickly turn to our collaborative to get the help I will need,” Hutchins said.

“Everyone is supportive and we all work together to improve the mental health of our community.”

In 2023, the Wellness Collaborative dedicated significant efforts to offering QPR training to both its organizational members and the residents of Cabarrus County. Collaborative members conducted seven trainings, resulting in over 80 community members receiving training.

Members of the Collaborative saw the impact of having their own employees trained. Big Brothers Big Sisters were able to use their newfound knowledge to train the youth that they serve.

“I know for a fact we have saved lives. We were able to bring crucial training to our parents, volunteers, staff, and children. This year was the first year we trained our youth. We had one child who thanked us because she is now able to help her friends, and she noticed some signs from one of her best friends at school.  Before the training and resources, she was at a loss for what to do.  She now feels equipped to help her friend and prevent suicide,” Hutchins said.

The QPR training also provided the Collaborative with valuable insights into additional resources needed by residents. Many participants asked, “What should we do next?” In response, Mental Health America of Central Carolinas, one of the funded organizations in the Collaborative, partnered with various community stakeholders to organize an event called the Community Discussion about Suicide.

“Mental Health America was extremely pleased with our first Community Discussion about Suicide. It was a collaborative success between several community stakeholders: Partners Behavioral Management, Faith Community members and the United Way Wellness Collaborative,” LaDonte Lee, Cabarrus Community Outreach Manager at Mental Health America, said.

“We had a successful mental health/youth resource fair before the panel discussion and breakout sessions for youth (middle and high school aged). We are planning for our second annual on October 27, 2024.”

The Mental Wellness Collaborative is a testament to what makes Cabarrus County so special. Through the dedication and synergy of these five organizations, the community is not only addressing mental health challenges but also fostering an environment of support and compassion.

By sharing resources, providing vital training, and hosting impactful events, they are making a tangible difference in the lives of residents. The Collaborative’s efforts highlight the power of working together for a common good and ensuring a brighter, healthier future for all in Cabarrus County.

Learn more about the work United Way is doing in Cabarrus County.

Raijene Walker is the Regional Director serving Cabarrus County.