(WKBN) – During Tuesday’s In-Depth segment, we start looking at the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board’s efforts to address trauma through outreach.
Valerie Burney is the Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for Mental Health. The position was established in November of last year.
“My position as an outreach coordinator is to make sure that the community is aware of the resources that are available to them. So when I was appointed to the position, we wanted to be more visible in the community to make sure that individuals that need help, that they get the help that they need,” she said.
Burney says they use the term proactive instead of reactive.
“Because we want people to, once they, you know, have a crisis, you know, or before they have a crisis, we just want them to know we have resources as a board. We have resources. This is my job to make sure that I’m out in the community to just direct individuals to the help that they need,” she said.
Burney has directed many activities in the community to reach these goals.
“I am a born and bred community person, so I love to help people. So I have been, I go from a gamut of youth all the way up to senior citizens. So when there is an event, there is a community event, a health fair, you will likely see me there. I have learned since I’ve been in the position that the more I’m out, the more people need to know,” she said. “Oh, you’re here. Yes, I’m here. Yes, we’re here. Yes, we have resources available. So you’ll see more churches are opening their doors to, you know, understanding mental health. So I’m at church events, I’m at school events, I’m in the community at community health agency events. I’m there as much as I can be out to make sure people are aware.”
Burney has also met with families who have experienced violence.
“That was, you know, a particular year. The 16-year-old that was murdered at the Homestead Park and on the South Side. I happen to know that family and when I heard about it, I was actually with his aunt, the young man, his aunt. I was with her at the store, actually, when it happened. So I immediately knew that we had to make sure that these individuals were able to get the help that they need and connect them to services,” she said. “I’m really working on just the grief counseling and just to make sure people are aware that, you know, when you need help to get help. So we were able to connect to the school that the young man went to to make sure that he and all the students, the staff at the school was aware of, you know, we connected those services for counseling for everyone.”
Burney says it’s important to her and the agency to make sure people are aware of their services.
On Wednesday, we’re going to look in depth at some of the things that we can look for to identify trauma.