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Regional mental health forums gain momentum, seek public participation

Northwest Kansas experts tackle mental health stigma

BIRD CITY, Kan. – (Wednesday, Feb. 26) Due to popular demand, a series of regional mental health forums that took place in Bird City last year have been expanded to include more learning opportunities and ways to get involved. The forums, with aim to provide support throughout northwest Kansas, continue to draw interest from local mental health experts and educators, and the group is now inviting the public to participate.

The newest mental health forum will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the Bird City American Legion Hall, 107 W. Bressler. Interested participants can RSVP by Friday, Feb. 21, by contacting LiveWell Northwest Kansas (LiveWell) at (785) 460-8177.

Those who are encouraged to attend include school faculty, administration and counselors, clergy, healthcare and mental health professionals, criminal justice and legal representatives, and community members with personal connections.

“Interest around mental health issues in northwest Kansas gained substantial momentum late last year when community stakeholders attended three forums to look deeply into the problems and stigma of mental health diseases, to identify focus areas, and to take action,” explained co-event sponsor Travis Rickford, director of LiveWell in Colby.

“However, our work is far from complete,” says Rickford. “We hope to connect the forums to other mental health initiatives taking place in the region to continue the momentum taking place around this important issue.

“It’s time to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health once and for all – and understand how we can support our families, friends, and neighbors as they struggle to thrive.”Previous forums highlighted problems related to mental health in northwest Kansas and attendants learned about mental health issues, possible solutions and community concerns.

“We’ve already discussed things like isolation, education, and access to care, which are all factors that we can improve upon,” said Rickford. “We’ve also discussed workforce discrepancies and reimbursement mechanisms.

Topics of discussion for the forum on Feb. 26, include scheduling education for peer counseling and to train communities on compassionate listening.

“Mental health, addiction, incarceration, poverty and trauma are discussed frequently, but no clear collaborative steps toward addressing the issues have been taken,” admits Rickford.

“We hope that by coming together, we can build regional understanding and implement collaborative efforts to truly bring about change. Only by gathering people of all sectors of our community can we hope to overcome the unique struggles of mental health.”

LiveWell Northwest Kansas is one of three organizations sponsoring the event. Funded by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and the Kansas Health Foundation as part of Health Equity Initiatives in northwest Kansas, LiveWell comes together with the Cheyenne County Health Department and Rawlins County Health Department.

“LiveWell is honored to collaborate with the public health departments of Cheyenne and Rawlins County,” said Rickford, “and we are excited to bring together the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, health care providers, residents and other organizations to address this important issue and get to the root of the problem. "

More information can be found online at

RSVP to the event by emailing Rickford at or calling (785) 460-8177.


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