SRSLY Chelsea and District Wellness Committee updates city on action plan

By Seth Kinker,

SRSLY Chelsea, the Chelsea wing of the SRSLY coalition that addresses preventing destructive behavior in youth, and the District Wellness Committee, formed three years ago in Chelsea after another local death, came to the Apr. 15 city council meeting to update and talk to council about what they’ve done and are continuing to do to address youth mental health.

Marcus Kaemming, Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Human Resources for the Chelsea School District (CSD) and the Chair of the Adult Steering Committee of SRSLY Chelsea, said that connectivity and resiliency are two things that need to be focused on with youth in his opening statement.

The youth mental health conversion was pushed by Kaemming, Curran, Lindsay Baker (Coalition Director of SRSLY Chelsea), and Lisa Nickel (CSD) who formed a coalition and talked about what they could do to prepare everyone in the community, with everyone needing to play a role.

“It can’t be on the backs of one group or organization,” said Kaemming. “We’ve had the opportunity to go around and talk to other groups, the school board, the hospital, here at council, county commissioner a little bit, just about where we see the needs.”

Reiley Curran, regional Director of SRSLY Chelsea, continued Kaemming’s thoughts, that the past year and half discussions with the youth mental health coalition had been how to bring it all together to support all kids and not overlap what all the community stakeholders are trying to do.

“There’s a high readiness from all sectors to do something about this problem,” said Curran to council on Apr. 15.” It was youth substance abuse 11 years ago and its youth mental health now.”

Although a coalition for youth mental health was formed, they wanted to use a similar framework they had with SRSLY to address this issue. After they met, the consensus was to collaborate but with new branding and a separate youth leadership team.

With that in mind, the District Wellness Committee let SRSLY and the hospital take over coordination of future meetings.

Curran broke down what they planned to accomplish over the next six months. The first was a needs assessment, which is currently underway led by St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and SRSLY and planned to be done by May 31. The main questions they’re trying to answer? What is the problem, why is it a problem, and why is it a problem here?

After the needs assessment, Curran talked about strategies and programs from around the state that address youth mental health that could be tested to see what works.

Strategic planning comes next and then an action plan. With the youth leadership team at the front, broad strategies will be made into specific activities and will have a timeline, parties involved, resources needed, and expected outcomes with the target completion date around Jul.31 for the planning and Aug. 31 for the action plan.

Funding will be a challenge, said Curran, but what’s needed won’t be known until the needs assessment is done.

A community forum is planned for Apr. 29 at the Washington Street Education Center from 6:30 – 8 p.m. for anyone who wants to learn more about what they’re doing or how they can help.

Mayor Melissa Johnson asked Kaemming and Curran if they had inquired about funding from the county, a millage passed in 2018 to address police services and community mental health.

Council member Rick Catherman asked if there was anything planned beyond the forum, that there was a need for programming now. He asked if there was anything in the works for possible summer programming and if the council could do anything to help.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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