Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Moscow & Pullman Building Supply

By Will DeMarco
Gazette Reporter 

PAL campaign aims at mental health stigma


August 2, 2018 | View PDF

Shelley Germain Calissendorff

Palouse Advocacy League Director Shelley Germain Calissendorff sets up shop at Palouse Caboose Bar and Grill for conversations about mental health.

The Palouse Advocacy League (PAL) last week sat down with residents at local eateries for conversations about mental health and suicide prevention as part of its "Three Days in July" campaign.

The campaign's aim is to break down the stigma of discussing mental health issues. To this end, PAL Director Shelley Germain Calissendorff spent three days traveling to an array of restaurants, coffee houses and pubs from Moscow to Palouse.

At each stop, Calissendorff talked with visitors about mental health, gave out freebies, sold PAL shirts and collected donations. She also offered a range of resources for dealing with issues like depression, stress and anxiety disorders.

Palouse Advocacy League evolved from The #3 Memorial Fund which Calissendorff formed after learning of former WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski's suicide last January.

Calissendorff said she was "absolutely floored" at the news. She soon formed the #3 Fund to combat what she says may have been the underlying causes of Hilinski's death.

Opening up about a mental health issue one may be facing is often the best way to begin solving it, Calissendorff explained.

"It opens the door for us to seek out the services we need when we're willing and able to ask for help," she said. "It can be difficult, but sweeping these issues under the rug and trying to make them go away only makes them worse."

Through the Three Days in July campaign, Calissendorff spoke with dozens of locals around the county and raised more than $300 for PAL.

An abundance of mental health information and resources were made available to visitors as part of the Three Days in July Campaign.

"Every time someone sees one of our bumper stickers or t-shirts, it plants a seed in their mind and helps reduce the stigma," she explained. "Even if someone just heard our ad and didn't show up, it plants a seed, like 'Maybe I can talk to my friends or maybe I can tell my roommate about my depression.'"

Based on the positive reactions she received, Calissendorff said she accomplished the goal she set out to achieve with the campaign.

"People were very warm and genuinely interested," she said. "It shows our community is receptive to these kinds of issues."

Calissendorff said she plans to continue the effort to de-stigmatize issues surrounding mental health, which she explained are "so, so commonplace in our society," by opening up more avenues for these types conversations. She's in the process of earning certification to be a peer support counselor and plans to lead counseling sessions through PAL soon.


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