The Covid-19 pandemic is challenging our nation in many visible ways, with physical illness, job loss, school, and business closures. But there is also an invisible assailant we are facing in increasing numbers, the impact of the virus to our mental health. The reasons are obvious as feelings of anxiety, isolation and helplessness are rapidly rising by the social isolation, death, and financial uncertainty the virus has evoked. Too few readily recognize the danger signs in this “new normal” lifestyle shift or if they do, are unsure where to turn for help for themselves, their partners and importantly, their children.
Irene Barton, an East Cobb resident of nearly 30 years, is working hard to provide tools for her neighbors in and around Cobb to guide and support them. As Executive Director of the Cobb Collaborative, provider of support, training, and organizational development services to Cobb County nonprofits and affiliated agencies, she led the launch in January of the Mind Your Mind mental health campaign to proactively address the need for mental health support, even more vitally important today as the burdens Covid-19 is taking on families across the region grow. The goal is to offer access to tangible and accessible resources for those unsure where to turn for help or sadly, do not seek aid because of the negative stigmas too oft associated with mental health issues.
“Mental illness affects one in five of us, yet so many people are hesitant to get help or unaware of the resources available to them. Mind Your Mind aims to empower the community by providing access to helpful information and perspectives, “ says Irene Barton, Cobb Collaborative Executive Director. “We are striving to take away the barriers to care with diverse opportunities accessible by the computer or in person and at no cost to the participant.”
Irene joined the Collaborative in 2017 and since becoming the Executive Director in 2018 she has increased revenue by 20%, diversified the Collaborative’s funding streams, doubled its membership roster to over 130 organizations, and overseen the restructure of its communications. Barton serves as a member of Resilient Georgia’s Education Committee, an organization committed to healing adversity and promoting resiliency in children and is incorporating their trauma informed framework in the offerings included in Mind Your Mind. She is also active in multiple area organizations, serving as the incoming 2020/21 Secretary of the East Cobb Civitan Club and volunteering with the Walton High School PTA.
The Mind Your Mind initiative includes online content and resources, professional level trainings, documentary film screenings, and panel discussions about sensitive topics including anxiety, stress, and trauma. The campaign started with support from Cobb & Douglas Public Health through its Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Today the campaign is made possible through a generous grant from the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation, partners advocating for strong programming that support families and children in crisis, Greystone Power Operation Round Up and Northside Hospital. Also partnering in the endeavor is Resilient Georgia, a state-wide coalition developing a closely-aligned and trauma-informed public and private network of education, prevention, and a systematic approach to behavioral healthcare services across the region. Barton Serves on the Education Committee for Resilient Georgia.
All trainings, panel discussions, film screenings and online resources are offered at no cost to the community. For information and calendar listings for upcoming events or other programs at the Cobb Collaborative, visit www.cobbcollaborative.org or contact Executive Director Irene Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Cobb Collaborative: Cobb Collaborative is a membership of nonprofit organizations, local government, businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, professional organizations, associations, and citizens that share ideas, expertise, and resources to meet the needs of Cobb County residents. For more information, visit www.cobbcollaborative.org