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May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Crosswinds Counseling and Wellness has spearheaded a number of efforts in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month.

“We are hosting a number of events and activities throughout the month to recognize Mental Health Month,” Clarice Podrebarac, marketing and outreach director with CrossWinds, said. “This year we are using some of the tools from both the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America.”

CrossWinds staff members have been seen throughout town sporting lime green ribbons in an effort to raise awareness about Mental Health Month. The ribbons are a good conversation starter — engaging others in dialog about the meaning of the month and how CrossWinds supports the mental health of community members.

One theme dominating the month’s activities is “I’m Mental Health — Inspire, Informed, Involved.”

Regional directors with CrossWinds said the agency has made significant strides in the last year to inform members of the community about available services. By increasing education efforts they have seen a significant increase in the number of individuals accessing services at CrossWinds.

“Our intake numbers are up, so we are seeing a lot of new people,” Tyson Prouse, director of clinical services, said. “Within the last couple of months we have hired four new therapists. So we are increasing the number of licensed providers on staff to meet the need.”

CrossWinds has also increased its partnerships with area schools. Schools are moving toward educating staff on providing trauma-informed care, with which CrossWinds is assisting. CrossWinds currently serves 11 school districts — providing services in the schools so students no longer need to miss valuable class time to attend their appointments.

“Some exciting things are happening in Osage County,” Lauren Rickner, regional director said. “We recently expanded school-based services to Marais des Cygnes and we are loving that partnership.”

“School-based services help with consistency,” Mental Health Clinician Tiffany Neely said. “This way I can go into the school and provide that service for the kids during their school day instead of them missing a whole or half-day of school and having to travel.”

Most area schools have dismissed for summer vacation, but CrossWinds will continue to provide services for children over the summer. Staff is currently gearing up for summer programing, which includes day programs for children.

At a time when many mental health providers across the state are cutting services due to budget restraints, CrossWinds has been able to add additional services and staff members. The agency is inspired to continue finding innovative ways to provide services to those in need.

“We are all passionate about mental health and the people we work with,” Community-based Services Coordinator Angela Martinez said. “The need is there in our community and we want to be available to meet the need. We want to see children and families thriving.”

Prouse said raising awareness about mental health and the ways CrossWinds can help is an ongoing effort. However, he feels the efforts the agency is making are working. Since implementing key awareness strategies including commercials and videos, utilizing social media and having a fleet of CrossWinds identified vehicles on the road, they have seen an increase in individuals accessing services as well as an increase in applicants to work at the agency.

CrossWinds offers a variety of services to support individuals in all stages of life. From early childhood interventions, helping new moms with postpartum depression, navigating relationship struggles or caring for an elderly parent, CrossWinds has providers trained to assist. With one in five adults experiencing a mental illness or mental health emergency at some point in their life, CrossWinds staff is clear — they are available to help.

“We want to serve as many people in the best way possible,” Prouse said.


Emporia Gazette