In May of 2021, a mental health awareness campaign entitled, “Your Mental Health Matters: It's Okay to Not be Okay,” was launched in Fannin County.
The campaign is the initiative of Fannin County Family Connection and many supporting organizations, including Blue Ridge Community Theater, Fannin County Division of Family & Children Services, Fannin County Public Library, Highland Rivers Health, North Georgia Autism Foundation, North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, Inc., and The Craddock Center.
Early last year, the Fannin County Family Connection Board of Directors developed a Strategy Team and tasked the team with evaluating the community and identifying gaps in services. They selected Board Member Anna Speessen to lead the effort. Speessen and a group of community organizations involved in Family Connection’s monthly Collaborative began meeting to identify community needs.
Then in April, Fannin County Family Connection hosted a Civic Dinner. This was a casual conversation and dinner gathering in which community members and organizations came together to discuss challenges facing families, gaps in community services, how to eliminate those gaps, and serve needs. Attendees worked together to identify areas of concern, which included mental health awareness and removing the stigma surrounding mental health.
The Strategy Team took this information and decided to focus on the development of a mental health awareness campaign.
The campaign launched in the month of May, which is observed annually as Mental Health Awareness month. The first event was a proclamation signing by the Fannin County Board of Commissioners declaring the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month in Fannin County.
"The goal of this campaign is to implement a community educational anti-stigma intervention and prevention campaign to change negative stereotypes around mental health," said Anna Speessen, Strategy Team Leader and Mental Health Awareness Campaign Coordinator.
The objectives of the campaign:
"Through acceptance and mindfulness activities, we hope to change community values about mental health," Speessen said.
In 2021, the campaign included a five-month television and Facebook Live series which can be viewed on the Fannin County Family Connection website at fcfc1.org. They also hosted community-wide viewings of the documentary, "Angst," plus social media messaging, and more.
Now, the campaign has transitioned to a year-long newspaper series. Stories will be published the last week of each month in the News Observer and feature individuals and organizations with an interest in mental health.
The mental health awareness campaign meets once per month via Zoom. To learn more contact Fannin County Family Connection at (706) 632-6063.
Written by Kristy Lindstrom, Communications Partner, Fannin County Family Connection