FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P² Collaborative of Western New York
716.923.6573 | firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
Reinvestment Fund and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Name Buffalo One of 50 Invest Health Cities
Buffalo to join innovative, national program to improve health in low-income neighborhoods
Buffalo, May 17, 2016--The City of Buffalo has been selected by Reinvestment Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to take part in the new Invest Health initiative. Invest Health is aimed at transforming how leaders from mid-size American cities work together to help low-income communities thrive, with specific attention to community features that drive health such as access to safe and affordable housing, places to play and exercise, and quality jobs.
Buffalo was selected from more than 180 teams from 170 communities that applied to the initiative. Cities with populations between 50,000 and 400,000 were asked to form five-member teams including representatives from the public sector, community development, and an anchor institution, preferably academic or health-related. The Buffalo team comprises representatives from the City of Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center, the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, University at Buffalo, NeuWater Associates and the P2 Collaborative, and will develop a sustainable food system business with job training, community development and healthy living services at the core of the work.
“The Erie County Medical Center views the Invest Health program as a natural fit for our efforts to be a great neighbor on Buffalo’s East Side,” said Thomas J. Quatroche, Jr., PhD, President & CEO of ECMC. “The approach taken by the leadership team recognizes that health is impacted by a wide variety of factors. Supporting community development, job training and job creation as well as other issues that do not fall within traditional definitions of health care is a more effective approach to driving improvements in population health. The multi-sector partners on the Invest Health leadership team will drive great improvements in this community.”
Mid-size American cities face some of the nation’s deepest challenges with entrenched poverty, poor health, and a lack of investment. But they also offer fertile ground for strategies that improve health and have the potential to boost local economies. The program has the potential to fundamentally transform the way Buffalo improves opportunities to live healthy lives by addressing the drivers of health including jobs, housing, education, community safety and environmental conditions.
“With a long history in community development finance, we are excited to help create a pipeline to channel capital into low-income communities through public and private investments,” said Amanda High, Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund. “Our goal is to transform how cities approach tough challenges, share lessons learned and spur creative collaboration.”
“Public officials, community developers, and many others have been working in low-income neighborhoods for years, but they haven’t always worked together,” said Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH, MBA, RWJF Vice President, Program. “Invest Health aims to align their work and help neighborhoods thrive by intentionally incorporating health into community development.”
Buffalo’s projects will explore a broad range of ideas from developing hydroponics, farmers markets and aquaponics to food service jobs, community development and healthy living programs. Examples include developing a farmers market for local residents and the creation of a healthy foods production and distribution hub that will create jobs and make affordable, healthy foods available for residents throughout the City of Buffalo. Project teams will travel to Philadelphia for a kick-off meeting on June 7th and will meet regularly to share lessons learned throughout the 18-month project. A full list of awardees and more information is available at www.investhealth.org.
About Reinvestment Fund
Reinvestment Fund is a catalyst for change in low-income communities. We integrate data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. Using analytical and financial tools, we bring high-quality grocery stores, affordable housing, schools and health centers to the communities that need better access—creating anchors that attract investment over the long term and help families lead healthier, more productive lives. Learn more at reinvestment.com.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.
About Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Corporation
The ECMC Corporation includes an advanced academic medical center (ECMC) with 602 inpatient beds, on- and off-campus health centers, more than 30 outpatient specialty care services and Terrace View, a 390-bed long-term care facility. ECMC is a Level 1 Adult Trauma Center, a regional center for burn care, behavioral health services, transplantation, medical oncology and head & neck cancer care, rehabilitation and a major teaching facility for the University at Buffalo. Most ECMC physicians, dentists and pharmacists are dedicated faculty members of the university and/or members of a private practice plan. More Western New York residents are choosing ECMC for exceptional patient care and patient experiences—the difference between healthcare and true care™.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. People living with mental illness confront their condition on a daily basis, and one month of building awareness does not do full justice to the issues and challenges they face. Kelly Showard, suicide survivor and mental health activist, sat down with us to discuss mental health well-being.
Q: Tell us a little about your own experience with mental illness.
It started when I was a kid- I'm not sure exactly when. I was molested by my dad- so it may be a reaction to that experience. Outside of being kind and caring, it's tough for me. I see people at their most basic form. I have deep feelings. I really do. I can be completely crushed on the inside and not only completely calm and collected but also smiling. You can be hurting and still genuinely smiling and caring for others at the same time.
I was diagnosed with depression postpartum, but it probably started before. In 2013 I had a series of events: I attempted suicide, my marriage ended, and I lost my job. All in the span of 3 months. But everything that happened was more and more freeing... which seems backwards. And I realized that it's ok to leave your job. It's ok to leave your marriage. Be the light.
Q: Kelly was recently showcased in the Buffalo News ReFresh for her work with the Front Seat Chronicles. What made you make the decision to speak out on mental health and start Front Seat Chronicles?
I would sit in my car before work, not wanting to go into the office. I would just start taking selfies. I started posting them on Facebook with a positive message. At first, I felt so self-absorbed posting these pictures, so I needed to find more people who were going through a similar thing, and I thought; this has to have a name... Front Seat Chronicles. They are memes, pieces of light, with messages like "Just be yourself" or "Be the light."
[Front Seat Chronicles] isn't just about suicide- that's my story. It started with selfies on my Facebook page, and now I have a website for other people to share their stories and help others understand they are not alone. A local radio personality, has shared on Front Seat Chronicles. She is a young woman still defining her career, and took a leap of faith when sharing her story.
Everyone has their own backstory and it isn't necessarily tragic. It's important to know that everyone has something that affects them and you need to be aware of that.
Q: Why do you think it is so important to have open dialogue about mental health?
People tend to walk around the issues. We can't break down the stigma until we can actually say the words. Don’t sugarcoat the words. Suicide. Just say it! There is also this need to label people as being depressed or bipolar, as if that defines the person. People don't walk around saying 'I'm diabetes,' so why should they say 'I'm bipolar'?
If I have a bad day or I don’t want to go out—then it’s assumed that I must be depressed, as if depression is a constant state. Being able to talk about it helps break down those barriers to understand what other people are going through.
Q: Do you think society is changing the way we think about mental health? What would you change?
Deciding to commit suicide was the hardest decision I ever made. If there was one thing I could change about people's perception of mental health it would be that people are not weak. Even the strongest person may be going through something.
Q: How do you handle your family when it comes to your mental health?
When it comes to my kids I've been very open with them. I hope my openness and candor has been positive for them.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who may be dealing with a mental illness?
There are more people than you think that aren't crazy out there. You just need to acknowledge that. You are not alone. And always be kind. You never know when a compliment or a text can change someone's life.
It's working. It's being a woman. It's being depressed. It's anxiety. It's postpartum. It's life. It's real.
We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illnesses…but if someone hasn’t gone through it, would they know how to recognize it?
Through the Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP), P² Collaborative is offering technical assistance to bring Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to 500 people across WNY. Last year, over 100 people were trained through PHIP.
Most people know how to respond to an emergency if someone were to have a heart attack using CPR or by calling 9-1-1. But very few know how to respond if someone is having a panic attack. MHFA is the initial help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis resolves.
MHFA training is an 8-hour training which teaches:
1 in 5 Americans suffer from Mental Illness each year according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). MHFA training helps in increasing knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses. Even First Lady Michelle Obama endorses it!
In just ten years, MHFA has become a full-blown movement in the United States with half a million Mental Health First Aiders. In 2016, the National Council for Behavioral Health is making it a priority to train more first aiders with a goal of having one million trained.
Mental health plays an important role in your overall well-being. Approximately one in five Americans ages 18 and older will experience a mental health problem THIS year. We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illnesses…but if someone hasn’t gone through it, would they know how to recognize it?
So often, clinical terms don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways. Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing—and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help.
It’s important for people to talk about how it feels to live with a mental illness. We know that mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. But not everyone knows what to look for when they are going through those early stages, and many simply experience symptoms differently. We all need to speak up early—Before Stage 4—and in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and alone.
This May is Mental Health Month; P² Collaborative is raising awareness of the importance of speaking up about mental health, and asking individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike. Posting with this hashtag is a way to speak up, to share your point of view with people who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and to help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.
Life with a Mental Illness is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need. Whether you are in Stage 1 and just learning about those early symptoms, or are dealing with what it means to be in Stage 4, sharing how it feels can be part of your recovery. P² Collaborative wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that the best prospects for recovery come when we act Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4).
Addressing mental illnesses B4Stage4 means more than burying feelings and refusing to talk about them, and waiting for symptoms to clear up on their own. B4Stage4 means more than wishing that mental health problems aren’t real, and hoping that they will never get worse. B4Stage4 means more than thinking that someone on the edge of a crisis will always pull himself or herself back without our help, and praying that someone else will intervene before a crisis occurs.
B4Stage4 means, in part, talking about what mental illnesses feel like, and then acting on that information. It means giving voice to feelings and fears, and to hopes and dreams. It means empowering people as agents of their own recovery. And it means changing the trajectories of our own lives for the better, and helping those we love change theirs. So let’s talk about what life with a mental illness feels like, to voice what we are feeling, and so others can know they are not alone.
For more information on Mental Health Month, go to www.mentalhealthamerica.net.
Visit www.speakyourmind211.com for a list of services!