GREENFIELD — City officials have joined forces with an Indianapolis nonprofit to educate central Indiana residents about mental illness and change the culture around mental health.

City officials announced Tuesday that Greenfield will take part in the “Campaign to Change Direction,” a national effort to educate people on the symptoms of mental distress and encourage citizens to treat their mental health with the same seriousness as any physical ailment. Greenfield is one of eight cities in central Indiana taking part in the educational effort, which aims to teach all citizens the signs of mental distress.

The city and other participating local organizations will receive educational materials from the Women’s Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation to provide to their employees and clients. The goal of the educational initiative is to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health care by providing the educational materials to employees and clients, officials said.

City councilwoman Keely Butrum, who last year worked with the Women’s Fund, was inspired to connect the effort with local agencies and organizations that have already been speaking up about mental health.

“My hope is that they will recognize what partners in the community are doing the same thing and be able to be more collaborative going forward,” Butrum said.

Organizers are looking to existing community programs tackling mental health for inspiration. One of those programs is Hancock Regional Hospital’s system of care, which connects young people struggling with mental health and substance-abuse issues to the services they need to get better.

Amanda Everidge, the hospital’s healthy community manager who oversees the program, said she’s encouraged to see more efforts to educate people about mental health and the resources available locally.

“I think the only way we are going to see change is if we work together,” she said. “It’s going to take our whole community to change the way we view mental health; this is a great start.”

Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell pledged his support to the effort, signing a proclamation declaring Wednesday “Change Mental Health Day.”

Fewell said early identification and intervention can make a profound difference in successful management of mental illness and recovery.

“Each business, school, government agency, healthcare provider, organization and citizen has a responsibility to help end the silence that for too long has surrounded mental illness and discouraged people from getting help,” Fewell said.

Five signs of emotional suffering

The Campaign to Change Direction, a national effort to change the culture of mental health in America, works to spread awareness of five signs of mental distress, which are:

1. Change in personality

2. Agitation

3. Withdrawal

4. Poor self-care

5. Feeling hopeless

Source: The Campaign to Change Direction, changedirection.org

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.