By Jan Frase, First Presbyterian Board Member
In early 2022, JONAH received a grant of $2000 for a Mental Health event from the Cody and Molly Filipczak Family Fund of the Eau Claire Community Foundation. At the same time, the Mission Committee of First Presbyterian Church was brainstorming about how to help with the increasing stressors on Mental Health. Joining together to combine our strengths, we organized four free Mental Health Wellness sessions.
On February 8, 2022 we offered a session on GUIDED RELAXATION with facilitator Kathy Reid Walker, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, and presenter Anthony McMorran, Tuning Tree Healing Services. In Anthony’s absence, Lynn Buske, JONAH Organizer, presented this session.
On March 8, 2022 there was a CHAIR YOGA session with facilitator Yia Lor, Extension Eau Claire County Educator, and presenter Ellen Dovre, Yoga Instructor and Physical Therapist.
The April 12, 2022 session was on BREATH WORK with facilitator Luke Fedie, Behavioral Health Administrator for EC County Dept. of Human Services, and presenter Anthony McMorran, Tuning Tree Healing Services.
The last session on May 10, 2022 was about GUIDED MEDITATION with facilitator Larry Winter, Peer Support Specialist and Retired Chippewa County Dept. of Human Services Director, and presenter Ann Brand, Mindfulness Coach and associate lecturer at UW Stout.
JONAH provided an online link to join the virtual sessions, distributed information to community resources about mental health and about the topic. The following link can be used to access resource materials and videos of the presentations, which JONAH will continue to update. https://jonahjustice.org/mental-health
The average attendance for these sessions was 20. A unique attendee was a committed group of members from Spirit Lutheran attending each month. When participants were asked if they would attend another event like this one, 100% answered yes. It was also a unanimous yes that the provided mental health resources were helpful.
One attendee commented, “For some reason I thought it was going to be information on mental health issues in the Chippewa Valley, how to help, etc. I’m thrilled it was about PERSONAL MENTAL health and how to take the edge off of a crappy day.”
The Jonah grant money provided each facilitator and presenter with a $100 honorarium. An anonymous donor purchased two ads in Volume One: a ¼ page ad in the January 27 issue for all four sessions and a 1/6 page ad in the April 7 issue for the April and May sessions. On Feb. 2, the Leader Telegram ran an event listing on the Health Matters page for all four sessions. Flyers were created for distribution and JONAH and many churches advertised the sessions.
Overall, this was a great opportunity for collaboration, connection, and support around mental health. The mission group is considering their next steps based on what they’ve learned working with these individuals. The JONAH Mental Health group is currently working to raise funds to provide trainings to understand mental health as an issue and trainings to support others in their mental health.