On Thursday morning, one of these groups of Sheridan residents visited the Inner Circle of the Sheridan Fulmer County Public Library to discuss their ideas, experiences and goals for mental health and mental health care in Sheridan County.
Their discussion, moderated by two volunteers, began with ground rules. It would be a confidential and guided dialogue, explained facilitators Cathi Kindt, a former health worker, and Sheriff Allen Thompson, focused on connecting participants and framing the issue of health. mental health in Sheridan County.
Although some seemed reluctant to share at first, the conversation quickly grew. Community members discussed topics ranging from the role of past experiences in shaping behavior to the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
Organizers hope these circles will challenge the stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, foster understanding and empathy for people with mental health issues, and fill gaps in mental health care in Sheridan. .
“Our ultimate hope,” said Julie Greer, coordinator of the Center for a Vital Community project, “is that we can have even a small impact in improving mental health – whether it’s awareness or education. resource availability – in Sheridan County.
To accommodate the schedules of various members of Sheridan County, event organizers said, study circles are standing at various times and places every week until the first week of November. Some study circle sessions will also be held outside of Sheridan Town; Wednesday night sessions, for example, are hosted at Story Library in Story, while Monday morning sessions are hosted virtually, via Zoom.
The Study Circles will conclude with a full action forum from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on November 15 at the Sheridan County YMCA. The forum will both generate concrete plans to implement study circles recommendations and provide opportunities for study circle participants to volunteer in the application of their ideas.
Previous study circles have generated tremendous change at Sheridan. Poverty Study Circles in 2012 spawned seven community initiatives, including mentorship programs in local high schools and Community Connections, an organization that provides referrals to various local programs. Meanwhile, the 2015 Circle on Building a Dementia Friendly Community resulted in a federal grant of $ 1.1 million and helped establish Dementia Friendly Wyoming, an organization dedicated to ensuring that Sheridan embraces people with dementia and their caregivers.
Participants left the library after Thursday’s study circle, happy to have participated and excited about future sessions. Next week, they hope to imagine new services Sheridan could adopt to meet the mental health needs of our community.
As a study circle facilitator, Thompson appreciated the group’s community approach to problem solving. It was “encouraging,” he said, “to see people take a serious interest in improving the community.”