‘Change Direction’ identifies five signs of mental illness, helps break stigma
— Change Direction Summit County – a local version of the national ‘Change Direction’ mental health awareness campaign – will officially launch with a lunchtime kickoff rally Friday, July 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Lock 3. The event is free and open to the public.
The ‘Bringing Mental Health to Main Street’ rally will provide information on local mental health and community resources, inspirational speakers who will share their personal experiences, plus music, giveaways, selfie booths and a variety of popular food trucks including: Fire Truck Pizza, Popsmith, Slop Truck, Square Scullery, Stone Pelican, The Orange Truk and Wholly Frijoles.
Among the featured speakers at the event are Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, creator of the national Change Direction campaign; and 16-year-old Eric Walton, who will share his recovery journey and living with bi-polar disorder.
The rally is just one of several Change Direction Summit County activities scheduled throughout the weekend of July 22 through 24.
On Saturday, July 23, campaign volunteers will take the campaign out to the community by taking part in two well-known community events – the WKDD Kidz Day at Boettler Park in Green and The Akron Arts Expo at Hardesty Park in Akron – while also appearing at the Natatorium in Cuyahoga Falls from 8 to 11 a.m. to share information about mental health and mental illness. At these events, in addition to receiving valuable information about local mental health resources, visitors will be encouraged to take a Change Direction selfie to post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The weekend will wrap up on Sunday, July 24, when local faith leaders and other volunteers visit numerous area churches to share key messages about mental health and reach out to anyone needing help.
For more information visit the Change Direction Summit County website at changedirectionsummitcounty.org, or the Change Direction Summit County Facebook page. For more information on the national Change Direction campaign, go to changedirection.org.
Nearly one in every five people, or 42.5 million American adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14. However, often friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family members are suffering emotionally and don’t recognize the symptoms or won’t ask for help.
Change Direction focuses on five signs of emotional suffering: personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness, using symbolic emojis to visually drive home these concepts.
The idea of having a Change Direction initiative targeted to Summit County was first suggested by local Congressman Tim Ryan and officially announced by Summit County Executive Russ Pry at his annual State of the County speech in March. “The goal is to change the culture of mental health so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve . . . to show compassion, to reach out, connect and offer to help,” County Executive Pry said in that speech.