Community Conversation holds mental health discussion


Community Conversation’s event on mental health and suicide.

The city of Ames has a goal to improve mental health throughout the community. A series of mental health discussions, called Community Conversations, will take place in the upcoming months.

“Community Conversation About Mental Health: Education and Resources” is a free event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at the Ames Water Plant. Mayor John Haila will start off the event with a welcome, followed by representatives from Ames Community Schools, Iowa State University and Mary Greeley Medical Center.

“City council has values and goals that they set every couple of years, and under their value of having fun, it is a vibrant and healthy community that attracts and retains people,” said Deb Schildroth, assistant city manager. “One of their goals is to implement city programs and initiatives that educate, train and engage the community in physical and mental wellness.”

The topic for Monday’s conversation is education and resources. Presentations on Mental Health First Aid will be given, describing the courses and training they offer. ASIST, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, was recently implemented by city staff for training.

“It’s to help identify when people are feeling suicidal or approaching them about whether or not they have a plan,” Schildroth said. “Then how to talk with them and how to help them get assistance and dealing with those feelings and talking through what other kinds of coping skills are needed so that they don’t follow through with that plan.”

Nicole Patton, associate principal of Ames High School, will speak on mental health wellness and resources within the school district. The ARCH and Subacute Care programs from Mary Greenley will also be addressed.

Shelby Gibson, a member of the Alternatives program, will discuss options before and after arrest for substance abuse.

“So, individuals who may have been arrested for using substances or some kind of crime related to substance use, instead of jail time, they may end up getting probation,” Schildroth said. “As long as they follow through on treatment and other kinds of recommendations.”

About 50 people, including Ames residents, guests from Ames Community School District and Iowa State students, are expected to make an appearance. The event is open to the public and will end with a Q&A.

Schildroth recommends both high school and college students attend, as they may know someone struggling with these issues or might be struggling themselves.

“Numerous mental health resources are available in our community, but we want to ensure that community members know what these resources are and how to access them,” said Julie Saxton, mental health advocate with the Ames Police Department.

Four more events are to come in 2023, covering the topics of resiliency, drug use and abuse, civility in conversations and navigating mental health or substance use systems.