Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Group gathers mental health resources in one helpful place
FAIRFIELD — A group in Fairfield is trying to help residents struggling with mental health problems, and to do that it has collected dozens of helpful phone numbers and put them in a single document.
The Jefferson County Mental Health and Wellness Alliance was formed last year with the goal of educating the public about mental health, and how to help those in need. Committee member Margaret Dwyer said the group was formed in the aftermath of the murder of Fairfield resident Nohema Graber in November 2021.
"After the murder, there were a lot of resources for parents and students, but nothing for the community as a whole,” Dwyer said. “The whole community was traumatized.”
A group of people reached out to Fairfield Mayor Connie Boyer to ask what could be done, and Boyer helped gather a group of interested residents to form a new committee to address mental health. The group members met a few times over Zoom, and broke into subcommittees with a narrower focus, such as providing activities for kids to do after school.
Dwyer, who is on the group’s public relations team, said her subcommittee members noticed that many helpful phone numbers for mental health were unknown, even to people who offered mental health services. That’s when the group decided it was time to gather all of those numbers into a single document that could be shared with mental health providers, law enforcement officers and the general public.
Group member Carol Chesnutt helped gather phone numbers and email addresses for crisis hotlines, counseling and therapy services, addiction issues, and more. The list contains about 30 organizations ranging from local, Jefferson County groups, to state and national organizations.
Jefferson County Mental Health Administrator Sandy Stever said she hopes the next step in the process will be the creation of a wallet-sized piece of paper the group can hand out with a QR code on it, so people can scan the QR code with their phones and have access to all the numbers and email addresses.
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