University employees are invited to city's May 20 mental health forum

University employees are invited to attend a mental health forum hosted by the city of Ames May 20 (6:30-8:30 p.m., Ames City Auditorium, 520 Sixth St., or via livestream on the city's social media channels). In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, it will address mental health concerns, identify symptoms of mental illness and connect residents with resources in central Iowa.

The event will include a keynote address by Story City-based Jason Haglund, a panel discussion with mental health experts and time reserved for questions. Haglund, a mental health counselor and leader in the behavioral healthcare field, will present "Finding a Path Forward After a Year of Stress and Uncertainty."

Following his talk, a panel of local mental health care experts will share information about their organizations, programs and services. Two university employees will participate on the panel, which include:

  • Brian Carico, therapeutic learning specialist with Ames Community School District
  • Cassi Cheney, program director of Optimae Life Services, Ames
  • Tricia Crain, executive director of Arc of Story County
  • Breanna Degelau, community-based crisis services supervisor with Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services
  • Joseph Fox, a licensed clinician, will provide information and resources about YSS
  • Kinsey Phillips, mental health advocate at ISU police
  • Warren Phillips, licensed psychologist, director of Central Iowa Psychological Services and associate teaching professor in the psychology department
  • Angela Tharp, executive director of NAMI of Central Iowa
  • Karla Webb, operations officer for Central Iowa Community Services (serving 11 central Iowa counties)

15 months in

More than a year of social isolation and restrictions brought about by COVID-19 have contributed to an influx of mental health concerns affecting people of all ages, according to local public safety agencies. 

"The pandemic has not only changed how we do things, it has impacted the emotional health of all ages across our community, nation and world. I am seeing an influx of mental health calls for service that suggest our community is suffering," said Julie Saxton, mental health advocate at the Ames Police Department. "This community forum will be helpful for residents to learn more about the resources in our community that can help put us on the road to recovery and help our neighbors, friends and community."

The city's Mental Health Wellness Recovery and Resiliency initiative will include a series of speakers, training and educational opportunities scheduled through September. They are free and open to the public.

The May 20 forum will be archived on the city's media production services website.