Department of Mental Hygiene Participates in Week of Mental Health Conversations at WACS | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo Submitted Pictured is Carri Raynor Project Coordinator, Chautauqua County Suicide Prevention Alliance.

WESTFIELD — Normalizing conversations about mental health is a top priority for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.

Working in partnership with the Chautauqua Tapestry Resilience Initiative and the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Chautauqua County, Carri Raynor, Christina Breen and Rachel Ludwig presented mental health, suicide prevention and self-care information to more than 100 students at the sixth in terminal at Westfield. Academy and central school.

Jake Hitchcock, dean of students and professor of health education at Westfield Academy and Central School, contacted the county mental hygiene department.

“I noticed an increased need for a more in-depth discussion about mental health in general,” said Hitchcock. “I had contacted CCDMH to come to my classes to share their knowledge on this topic in hopes of providing additional resources and opening additional doors for my students to access if needed, and I think this has been accomplished.”

The programming provided by the county focused on normalizing mental health issues, managing stress, providing stress management strategies, and exploring ways to better deal with big emotions such as depression, depression, stress, and mental illness. anxiety and anger.

“It is vital to tell stories and share experiences”, said Christina Breen, trainer and mental health coordinator. “For young people, they tend to feel big, and those experiences when we are younger are valuable; they are tall. We want to shift the conversation to exploring ways to overcome these big things. We also want young people to know that they are not alone. Knowing that many of us have had similar experiences and come out on top. We must provide practical solutions accompanied by hope.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 34. There are many reasons why young people find it hard to reach out; social stigma and lack of knowledge about resources are often the biggest barriers.

“We should talk about the stigma behind mental health and suicide because it stops many of us from seeking help,” said Carri Raynor, mental health trainer and coordinator of the Suicide Prevention Alliance. “When we talk about suicide, we recognize that it could be the result of a mental health crisis. Mental health issues and help-seeking should be encouraged. There are many national and local resources for young people. We were so happy to be invited to Westfield, to talk about hope and share our resources.

Middle school counselor Amy Brinkley and high school counselor Scott Cooper also provided support throughout the conversations.

“It is vital for us to continue our efforts to destigmatize mental health issues by talking to young people, and the logical place to start these discussions is in schools. Empowering students to ask for help when they are struggling and spreading the message that asking for help is courageous is so important today,” said Brinkley.

Counselors were encouraged to participate in conversations, normalizing that adults struggle too. This helps build trust and bonds between teachers and students, making it easier for young people to reach out.

“Students received advice, tools and tips to help them improve their mental health and raise awareness, if needed. It was an outstanding program and I highly recommend it to all schools,” said Cooper.

Prioritizing the mental health of students in our county starts with these important conversations. There are many trainings and resources that the County Mental Hygiene Department can provide to local school districts in Chautauqua County, in addition to school-based behavioral health clinics at schools in Jamestown and Dunkirk.

The county may tailor programming to a school district’s needs for students and staff. For a complete list of free resources, available programs and training opportunities, visit and For immediate inquiries, email [email protected] and [email protected]

People in crisis can call the 24/7 Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-0461, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or the crisis text by texting TALK to 741741.

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