Creating a Community that Cares

Mackenzie Pooleby Mackenzie Poole
Community Leadership Officer at Hamilton County Community Foundation

When Hamilton County Community Foundation began its strategic planning process in April 2018, the foundation completed a full environmental and needs assessment of the community. Staff reviewed research and reports, held stakeholder meetings and formed a strategic planning committee. One area consistently arose as a common issue throughout the county, an issue many people felt was too immense to tackle: mental health.

Mental health impacts everyone, no matter your age, income level or where you live. Westfield is seeing an influx of 2,000 residents per year and an immense growth in talent and wealth. According to the Indiana Youth Institute, nearly six percent of youth in Hamilton County are living in poverty, compared to 21.5 percent statewide. However, according to Indiana University’s survey of 6th graders statewide, seven percent of Westfield Intermediate students had seriously considered attempting suicide, compared to eight percent statewide. After Kyle Miller, coordinator for social & emotional learning at Westfield-Washington Schools, presented this data to the community foundation, we knew there was both a need and community support to confront Westfield’s mental health issues.

In January 2019, Hamilton County Community Foundation was invited to a conversation with a group of passionate individuals from Westfield ready to change the mental health landscape of their community. The foundation joined forces with the City of Westfield and Westfield-Washington Schools to form and fund the Westfield Wellbeing Coalition. Together, we witnessed the work done by the City of Fishers with their mental health initiative and took a page out of their playbook, and we incorporated as many stakeholders as we could. The Wellbeing Coalition knows that tackling this issue requires a broad, inclusive group of dedicated individuals working together.

The Wellbeing Coalition is guided by the following core principles:

  • Create awareness of challenges and resources available
  • Provide access to training and services
  • Unite as one city to advocate for and serve all residents
  • Engage people, treasures and talents to deliver sustainable goals

Guided by these principles, the Wellbeing Coalition will unveil their comprehensive strategic plan to the community during mental health awareness month this May.

The group is led by Inspiring Transformations consultant Suzanne Clifford and has now grown to over 150 passionate members who care about the mental wellbeing of everyone in the Westfield community. The group, which convenes monthly, includes individuals from parents to CEO’s, elected officials and everyone in between. Each stakeholder also serves on one of four committees where they can best use their talents: advocacy, action, awareness or assets. What makes this coalition so unique is the focus Westfield is placing on creating a community that cares and ensuring every resident has a support system.

Learn more about Hamilton County Community Foundation

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