Safe Person initiative supports those with mental health concerns

05/03/17 03:32:am

decal.jpgA new tool is available to help identify people who are prepared to offer support to others and make them feel comfortable talking about their concerns.

The initiative that came about through the Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination (WISE), staffed and partially funded by Rogers Behavioral Health. WISE has created a special decal for people to display in their offices, home, cars and social media to let people know that they are willing to offer a non-judgmental listening ear. The decal includes seven promises people seek to fulfill:

  1. Acknowledge that reaching out for support is a strength.
  2. Listen and react non-judgmentally.
  3. Respond in a calm and reassuring manner.
  4. Reflect back the feelings, strengths, and ideas I hear when listening.
  5. Ask how I can be helpful and respond as I am able.
  6. Do what I can to connect to other supports if asked.
  7. Maintain confidentiality and communicate if exceptions exist.

According to Sue McKenzie, WISE facilitative co-leader, “This concept is being introduced into places of business, congregations, and schools. For example, we did education at Sussex Hamilton and Audubon High Schools where teen mentors were not only trained on the promises, but also helped to create a video about how to be a Safe Person.”

Available at SafePerson.org below the seven promises, the video shows teens acting in four brief skits they wrote to describe what the promises look like in action. The decal can be downloaded at safeperson.org. Rogers will be promoting the Safe Person initiative in social media and through media stories during May, Mental Health Month.

Students from Hamilton High school give the program high praise

This was not only a great opportunity for me to strengthen my interactions with my friends, but it gave me the 7 steps to help others around me learn them too.   ~Grace

After having this training, I am confident I can teach someone else these skills to make our school a better environment.  ~ Ellie

The skills I learned are skills that anyone can learn and use….. they can even work on guys!    ~Sam

The Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination (WISE) is a statewide coalition of organizations and individuals promoting inclusion and support for all affected by mental health and substance use challenges by advancing evidence-based practices for stigma reduction efforts.

The idea of the Safe Person grew out of the Honest, Open, Proud (HOP) Program, which guides people to make careful and safe decisions about whether to and how to share aspects of their own mental health story in order to access supports or to advocate for others. While HOP asks people to decide who is safe to disclose to, the Safe Person decal allows those who want to offer support, a way to step forward to make the offer.

HOP and the Safe Person decal have been partially supported by Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services’ Youth Empowered Solutions grant. The Executive Committee of WISE includes MHA, NAMI, Grassroots Empowerment, Rogers, and Public Health.

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