Campaign hopes to start conversation about mental illness

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU)- An area community hopes a new campaign will shed more light on the subject of mental illness and start a community conversation.

Thursday the City of Chippewa Falls launched its Compassionate City Campaign.

Chippewa County says it’s seen its rate of suicide double over the past year. That's just one of the reasons why the city kicked off the campaign to get people talking about mental health issues and hopefully remove the stigma attached to getting help.

“We want to get that conversation moving around mental health and we want to get the stigma removed around mental illness,” Rhonda Brown, Director of the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership said.

Brown and the team at the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership say recent assessments identified mental health awareness as a top need in the community. By launching the three year Compassionate City Plan they hope to help others before it’s too late.

“It’s sometimes as simple as saying hi and visiting with someone,” Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman said.

As part of the Compassionate City Project, the Health Improvement Partnership offers some simple tips to improve overall mental health. Those tips include getting outside and getting exercise and interaction with others.

“We want people to know that even on the short lunch hour you can get down to the park take a short walk and literally change your brain chemistry and improve your spirit,” Brown said.

As for getting the word out about the campaign, the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership says it’s all about businesses and community members starting the conversation and spreading awareness.

“Mental illness does affect everybody and anybody and it doesn't matter who that individual is,” Chippewa Falls YMCA Director of Marketing Jim Ignarski said.

As part of the Compassionate City Campaign the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership says it is planning weekly walks for people to get out, get exercise and start talking. The partnership plans to start those walks every Friday at noon at Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls.

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