Natalie Eilbert, an award-winning reporter from the Press-Gazette who covers mental health reporter for USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, will moderate the conversation.
Allyson Schmude, an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Student Engagement Center at UW-Green Bay, organized the three events after meeting with myriad community agencies. Her role at the university is part of a federal government anti-poverty initiative, and it became clear to her that needs were not being met for a crucial chunk of the greater Green Bay population.
Allyson Schmude, an AmeriCorps VISTA member in the Student Engagement Center at UW-Green Bay, organized the three panels reexamining poverty through different lenses at the Christie Theatre.
The germ of the project came from ongoing conversations with specialists and experts in the community. Schmude realized that these conversations expanded her breadth of understanding on the topic of poverty. She decided to pitch the idea to Ben Dresdow, program coordinator for the Student Engagement Center.
“He was like, ‘Heck yeah, we can do that,'” Schmude said. “It was really encouraging to see how gracious everybody was in sharing resources this way.”
Before he worked with the university, Dresdow worked at Willow Creek Behavioral Health. A majority of the patients there, at more than 70%, are suicidal, with patients ranging in age from 10 and up. Additionally, a majority of the patients have experienced homelessness.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions about the types of people who end up at Willow Creek,” Dresdow said. “I wanted to get the conversation to professionals.”
While the topic of mental health is a universe unto itself, the ways that poverty creates, exaggerates and agitates those mental health conditions will be examined on Tuesday, from the perspective of counselors like Cheslock, domestic violence advocates like Kaylin, and social workers like Yang.
They will answer questions about the most prominent barriers to accessing mental health services, the vicious cycle of mental health challenges and economic strain, vicarious trauma in the mental health workforce and how awareness campaigns can help topple stigmas associated with mental health.
Kaylin, the volunteer coordinator for Violence Intervention Project, said she plans to discuss the many barriers that people face when seeking and receiving services, with a particular focus on those impacted by sexual assault and domestic violence. Cheslock, a counselor from Wellness Center, will also speak about those barriers in services that are specific to low-income people, and will address how to better manage and reduce the stigma attached to seeking help.
Dresdow and Schmude hope that the conversation will further understanding and generate compassion for those struggling with their mental health below the poverty line.
“I have a stable job, I’m a young professional, I have a young family. But if I had maybe two months of a rough time, it wouldn’t take much to end up right in that kind of boat,” Dresdow said. “The vast majority are trying to get by, and if we can have that empathy for the people that need it when they do, I think it makes it a little better for all of us.”
The panel will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday.