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Sauk Prairie schools to promote teen mental health summit featuring Nigel Hayes

March 14, 2017

Students in Sauk Prairie schools will be encouraged to attend an upcoming teen mental health summit in Baraboo featuring an appearance by University of Wisconsin men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes.

Sauk County Health and Wellness Coalition members Melanie Platt-Gibson of SSM Health-St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo and Ken Carlson from Sauk Prairie Healthcare presented information on its Building a Better U! Teen Summit to the Sauk Prairie School Board at its March 13 board meeting.

The board agreed to allow information about the April 22 event to be circulated in Sauk Prairie schools, though it took no formal action on the matter.

“With the other two hospitals in Sauk County… and the county health department, Sauk Prairie Healthcare has identified mental health issues as important,” Carlson said. “And in that, the notion of empowerment and engagement among youth is very important.”

The goal is to draw about 250 students; 50 each from Sauk Prairie, Baraboo, Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and other area districts. The project aims to improve well-being, self-esteem and social functioning among teens, provide resources for teen mental health and wellness, increase social support and participation in the community, and encourage understanding and awareness of mental health issues among at-risk teens.

Carlson said Sauk Prairie Healthcare, St. Clare Hospital and Reedsburg Area Medical Center are collaborating to host the event. Platt-Gibson said the three hospitals shared health needs assessment data collected as required by the Affordable Care Act.

“Each of us knew our piece of the puzzle looked a little different but our demographics look almost the same,” Platt-Gibson said.

She said the assessment showed mental health is one of the largest challenges faced by the county.

“So what we wanted to do is say how can we give teens 13-17 tools to recognize what is mental health, how do I deal with it, what does it feel like, how do I engage and how am I empowered, so they are not pushed over that edge and are teetering?” Platt-Gibson said.

The one-day summit will be held from 1-7 p.m. April 22 at Baraboo High School, 1202 Draper St., in Baraboo. The event will offer presentations on communication, bullying, relationships and sex, emotional well-being, mental health and substance experimentation and use, to name a few. University of Wisconsin mens basketball player Nigel Hayes also will discuss his related personal challenges and successes.

The event is estimated to cost $6,000-$8,000, and will cover the cost of food and snacks, the presenters, technology, advertising and course materials.