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Be Well Toledo: Struggle No More Campaign Raises Awareness About Mental Health And Wellness Impacts of Pandemic

In a typical year, one out of every five adults struggle with mental health. No one could say 2020 was a typical year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 40 percent of adults described having challenges with mental health in 2020. Tracee Perryman, PhD, CEO of the Center of Hope Family Services, saw these statistics playing out in the lives of those around her, and decided to take action and gather critical, life-saving information on how to get help to Toledoans.

Perryman explained, “I’m closely connected to friends, family, and church members who have been personally impacted by the pandemic. With people all around me suffering from ripple effect of the pandemic, I felt compelled to get involved and serve as an instrument of change.”

Tracee Perryman, PhD,
CEO of the Center of Hope Family Services

In late 2020, Perryman launched a campaign to encourage minority populations to wear masks to guard against coronavirus infections and help pave a path toward greater vaccine compliance as well. The premise of the “Mask Up Toledo” campaign was simple: use education and an upbeat music video to encourage more people to wear masks, especially among minority populations the virus is known to disproportionately affect. Since the pandemic’s onset, National Center for Health Statistics data has shown that people of color are almost three times as likely to contract coronavirus compared to their white counterparts, and twice as likely to die from it.

Inspired by the success of the Mask Up Toledo campaign and wanting to further help the community, Perryman started to focus on understanding and spreading education on the deep and long-lasting impacts of the pandemic on individual’s mental health and wellness.

“When launching this second public awareness campaign, I felt confident that addressing the mental health challenges and consequences of these lockdowns was imperative,” said Perryman. “I couldn’t stop thinking about the children being out of school for almost a year … the stress the pandemic has put on parents trying to work and take on additional responsibilities … the anxiety brought on by those now unemployed, not to mention the impact on those who have lost loved ones. It’s a lot to process for everyone. So, I asked myself: how can I help?”

With Perryman leading the effort, the Center of Hope Family Services, the Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services, and the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, recently launched another powerful public awareness campaign called “Be Well Toledo: Struggle No More” emphasizing the need for mental health and wellness for minority populations.”

Providing access to services is only half the solution according to Dr. Markita M. Thompson DNP, AGNP-C, PMHNP-BC, TBHP of Infinity Hope Center in Detroit who explained “feelings of mistrust are often an overlooked component and there is a negative stigma associated with depression and other mental health symptoms.”

“Support is out there, and we need to connect more folks with it,” said Perryman. “Access to services are for those who have clinical symptoms, which can leave out those who are struggling with the pandemic, but do not meet clinical thresholds.

Bottom line: This mental health campaign’s focus is equally about awareness of how to recognize mental health symptoms, adopt wellness practices in daily living routines.”

Both Perryman and Thompson agree: A big challenge to getting individuals the vital help they need is awareness. Thompson noted that while a lack of awareness about community-based support existed prior to the pandemic, it was exacerbated by the current health crisis. To combat this, community-based support is important, and that is what Perryman and her collaborators is looking to provide through this campaign. 

Perryman stressed, “Knowing the warning signs of mental illness is key, including: fear or numbness; changes in appetite; difficulty sleeping; and, stomach problems, and skin rashes. Then, people need to change their behavior have to enhance their mental wellness. Simple actions like regular exercise, keeping a journal and staying connected with family and friends can make a world of difference.”

The Be Well Toledo: Struggle No More campaign’s mission is to get information about mental health and wellness, available services and providers to those in need. For help and support, contact Rescue Mental Health Services at 419-225-3125 or go to RescueMHS.com online



Copyright © 2021 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/15/21 10:39:52 -0400.

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