LHI launches ‘Campaign to Change Direction’ in La Crosse

Campaign focused on mental health, learning 5 signs of suffering

LHI launched “The Campaign to Change Direction” in La Crosse on Monday.

La Crosse is the first community in the nation to launch the campaign, which focuses on mental health and wellness.

During a Monday morning LHI employee meeting, employees were among the first in the community to learn about The Campaign to Change Direction.

“Someone has to lead. We look at this as a burden, it’s too much to handle or it’s a big problem but it takes one at a time, so we’ve taken the lead,” said Don Weber, CEO of Logistics Health Inc.

Weber said the negative culture surrounding mental illness has gone on way too long.

“As a community, we need to stand up and get rid of the stigma,” said Weber.

That is why he and his employees at LHI are the first to take the pledge to change direction by learning the five signs.

“This isn’t about diagnosing each other, it’s about recognizing when someone is in pain,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, founder of the Campaign to Change Direction.

Here are the “Five Signs of Suffering,” or the five signs that someone might need help:

1. Personality change – Their personality changes

2. Agitation – They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody

3. Withdrawal – They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people

4. Poor self-care – They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior

5. Hopelessness – They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances

“We want all Americans to learn the signs that someone you know may be hurting and then know what to do: you reach out, you connect and offer to help,” said Van Dahlen.

It may look like a hard narrative to break, but with partners on a local and national level, many believe it’s a narrative that needs to be re-written.

“This is the next culture change. We can do this but we need everybody,” said Van Dahlen.

With this campaign, the organizers wanted to reach 1 million people over five years. On Wednesday, March 4, members of LHI attended the national launch event in Washington, D.C., where the Five Signs of Suffering were first introduced. Since the national rollout, the campaign now has 50 partners and will reach about 30 million Americans over the next five years.

If you would like to join the conversation, use the hashtag #ChangeMentalHealth. You can also find updates on the Change Direction -La Crosse Facebook page.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, March 23, the community was invited to attend the Change Direction-La Crosse Community Launch Event at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts. The free event was sponsored by LHI. Attendees learned more about the Five Signs of Suffering from Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder of The Campaign to Change Direction, Founder of Give an Hour, and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2012.

Weber talked about the power of community and international recording artists G.R.L. performed. The group lost group member, Simone Battle to suicide last Septembet. G.R. L. members Lauren Bennett, Emmalyn Estrada, Natasha Slayton and Paula Van Oppen also talked about why it’s important for them to be involved in the movement on a national level.

For more information on the national movement, visit www.changedirection.org.  If you or someone you know has a mental health concern call Great Rivers 211. It’s a free and confidential program and is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.