Appleton West High, Fox Valley mental health programs team up for free, virtual mental health series

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 4:33 PM CST
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Since the pandemic began, many mental health professionals have seen an increase in need. Now some mental health groups and a Fox Valley high school are teaming up to provide helpful mental wellness tips to everyone.

“COVID really has done a good job of really exposing our need for more mental health and mental wellness in our community,” said Appleton West Principal Mark McQuade.

Appleton West High School has an annual mental wellness fair for students and families, but McQuade says it was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

“So we decided that what we could do is do an online virtual mental health series,” said McQuade.

In talking with Prevent Suicide Fox Cities and Catalpa Health, they decided to take advantage of the virtual platform to expand the event, inviting anyone to join in on a Virtual Mental Health and Wellness Speaker Series.

“For a number of people the pandemic has made mental wellness more challenging so we’re trying to break down those barriers,” said McQuade.

“How can we help our community, how can we help the students and the families through COVID and, being somewhat disconnected, how can we connect them and give them the information they may need to move forward and feel connected,” said Cindy Reffke.

Reffke, Prevent Suicide Fox Cities Board Chair, says the 10-week series is free and will feature 20 minute presentations from various speakers through Appleton West’s YouTube page.

“So it doesn’t take a long time to get a message, it’s almost the same as reading a newspaper or reading a magazine article, except you have someone talking to you about something that’s very important to their heart and sharing the information that will hopefully help,” said Reffke.

Planned topics include self-care, how to help someone in crisis, and specifically how to help kids through the pandemic.

“I think that we just feel like this might be the opportunity to have people think about their mental health, to think about how important it is,” said Reffke.

“These are things that we need to educate everyone on and the more we talk about it, the more we can get help for people,” said McQuade. “We’re going to hopefully, if nothing else, spread awareness and then help a few people along the way,”

The first presentation will be available Jan. 25 at 8 a.m. on the Appleton West YouTube page.

New presentations will be added every other week through May and will be kept on the YouTube page for later viewing.

A direct link to the first seminar, and more information on future presentations, can be found on the Prevent Suicide Fox Cities website.

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