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SIDEBAR: Focus on mental health in the community

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This spring, the Human Relations Commission, or HRC, will launch a series of programs aimed at educating villagers on mental health issues and finding better ways to help those in the community who deal with these concerns. The events were sparked by last year’s death of villager Paul Schenck, who was known to suffer from bipolar disorder and depression, in a shootout with police, an event that raised concerns from some villagers about the police response to those with mental health issues.

“Anything that the HRC can do to positively impact the community, we want to do,” HRC member Linda Rudawski said recently.

Two components will be offered to interested villagers. Community Conversations about Mental Health is a series of dialogues around mental health issues, modeled on a program developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education. The program was “developed to reduce the shame and secrecy associated with mental illness,” according to a press release, as well as help participants examine community resources.

The second component, Mental Health First Aid, is a 12-hour adult public education program taught by a certified instructor aimed at those who are first responders, along with any interested villagers. The course is designed to “improve participants’ knowledge and modify their attitudes and perceptions about mental health and related issues…” according to the press release.

The events, which are free and open to all, are sponsored by a newly formed collaborative group comprised of HRC representatives, the Yellow Springs Police Department, mental health support groups, schools, mental health professionals and other interested persons. Those interested in taking part in this group may contact Rudawski at


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