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Mental health organization making changes

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GREENFIELD — To better connect with the community it serves and to freshen its brand after over 50 years, Mental Health America of Hancock County officially announced its name change Thursday to Mental Health Partners of Hancock County.

The name change does not signal any breaks in mission or funding as the local agency did not receive funds from Mental Health America, a leading national nonprofit dedicated to the country’s mental health and wellness, executive director Kara Harrison said.

“The word ‘Partners’ describes our organization a bit better. We are partnering with individuals, businesses, organizations and the community for mental health and wellness,” Harrison said.

“We just wanted to rebrand ourselves and focus on our community,” she said.

In conjunction with the name change, the agency will soon have a new logo, and efforts are under way to expand the size of its board of directors to bring new ideas to the table, said board president Kevin Minnick.

“The brain power we can muster (with a larger board) can expand our financial credibility, which has been a question for many years,” Minnick told the board Thursday. “It’s my aim to put an end to that question.”

In addition to being the title sponsor of the Pennsy Trail Art Fair and Music Festival for its 11th year this June, the agency will hold its first “annual campaign” during May’s Mental Health Month to raise funds and highlight the group’s efforts in the community.

This year’s drive will differ from that of previous years when the agency solicited “members,” Harrison said.

Though the agency has grown during its tenure in the county, Harrison said the growth has been difficult, as it tries offering its array of services on limited funding.

The rebranding and fresh logo are the group’s initial steps to bring itself further out front, Harrison said.

“A huge part of this is forming partnerships in the community, building the bridge between all these entities to promote mental health,” Minnick said.

With the focus of mental health care trending toward prevention and proaction rather than strictly treatment and reaction, Minnick said the agency plays a vital and necessary role in Hancock County.

“We want to address the needs in the community and be leaders in identifying gaps and finding ways to fill those gaps,” he said.

One gap the agency is addressing is providing short-term assistance to the underinsured and working poor who need to connect with mental health resources.

The Behavior Care Assistance Project, started last fall with a $9,800 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation, currently has seven enrollees who received a mental health assessment and vouchers for care or medication.

“It’s short term, but it gets them back on their medications so they can get back to work and become sustainable,” Minnick said.

The agency also offers a referral service to countywide mental health programs, providers and organizations for people who need to connect quickly, suicide prevention trainings, holiday assistance to the county’s developmentally disabled, chronically disabled and isolated seniors through its Gift Lift program.

The agency promotes public awareness of mental health issues with a speakers bureau and participation in a variety of health and community affairs throughout the county, Harrison said.

For more information about the agency, which is a United Way of Central Indiana partner agency, or to inquire about services, call (317) 462-2877.

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