Posted by Laura Nichols-Endres on Nov 17, 2021
We had a wonderful Inspiration Lounge on Tuesday, November 16th at the University Club and over Zoom.
 
President-elect David Dominick chaired the meeting.  He announced all November birthdays, and shared cupcakes.  He also recognized Rotary membership anniversaries.  Scott Arndt has reached a 1 year anniversary and Deb Katzmark has reached 25 years!  Congratulations!

The evening's speaker was introduced by Dr. Jim Hart.
Marna Melrose Canterbury is the Senior Director of Community Health and Engagement for Health Partners.  She provides organizational leadership in community partnerships, needs assessment and key community health initiatives.
 
Marna's presentation focused on the Make it Ok campaign, which is aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness by creating caring conversations in our community. Make it OK was founded in 2012 at Regions Hospital, part of the East Metro mental health collaborative.
 
Data shows that silence makes mental illness worse.  People are less likely to learn about a loved one's mental illness vs a physical illness.  By learning, talking & sharing we can reduce stigma.
 
Our beliefs about mental illness are often not fact based.  Survey data has shown that people believe that it's controllable -- that people can will themselves to be better, or that people suffering from mental illness are showing a moral failing or a lack of faith.
 
Mental illnesses are conditions that occur in the brain -- if we can speak about it like physical illness, we will make headway. Marna led an exercise where we thought about the language we use to describe those with physical illnesses (survivor, warrior, brave, suffering) vs less kind words that are used with those with mental illness.  We are uncomfortable talking about mental illness, so we often use slang terms or humor to deflect. Think about using these physical illness words -- for example, someone with a mental illness is very brave to show up every day at school or work while also coping with anxiety, depression or other conditions.  
 
The picture of people who struggle with mental illness include people from many backgrounds, including people in prominent positions.  Covid has pulled this into the open.  Many people have been struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
 
Marna provided ideas of what to say if someone shares about a mental illness they are experiencing.  She suggests you respond how you would if they are dealing with a physical illness:
"Thanks for opening up to me"
"How can I help"
"I'm sorry to hear that"
 
She also shared crisis resources.  911 not the first start.  Crisis Text Line is Minnesota's new text-based suicide prevention and mental health crisis service. Text MN to 741741 to be connected with a trained counselor who will help you and connect you to local resources. Crisis Text Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in all parts of the state.  makeitok.org also has a lot of resources.
 
Many Rotarians shared heartfelt and personal stories about their experiences with mental illness, and discussed how we can support each other as a community. Talking about this together reduces stigma and helps people feel supported.
 
Upcoming meetings & events:
  • No meeting next week due to Thanksgiving
  • Next lunch Nov 30th, President of Concordia University
  • Winter Spark -- tickets still available, attendance will be capped at 100.  We have a $10K challenge match for the fund-a-need toward our $30K goal!  Thank you Dick & Nancy for being our wonderful hosts.
  • We have openings for holiday volunteer opportunities at Hallie Q. Brown
 
Dave Dominick announced that we are closing our Rotary office in downtown Saint Paul, since Jodi is able to work from home.  Our final day is on Friday.  The new mailing address is:
PO Box 600065
St. Paul, MN 55106
 
 
 
Laura Nichols-Endres
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