At the July 26 City Council meeting, Mayor Kathy Bailey declared August 2022 as “Mental Health Month” in the City of Loveland.
“Early identification and treatment can make a difference in successful management of mental illness and recovery. Good mental health is critical to the well-being of our families, communities, schools and businesses, and greater public awareness about mental illnesses can change negative attitudes and behaviors toward people with mental illness,” Bailey read from the proclamation.
Throughout August, several activities will take place around the city to support mental health awareness, per the suggestion of resident Tori Morrison. Tori’s son Ben, a 2020 Loveland High School graduate, took his life in 2021. In honor of their son, Tori and her husband Donnie have established the Ben Morrison Memorial, a scholarship fund.
“This cause has become my passion. We can’t help anybody if we don’t share our story. Kids’ mental health should be a priority like their physical health,” Tori explained. “With the federal mandate now in effect for the 988 Lifeline, August is the perfect month to help bring awareness to mental health in our community.”
In mid-July, the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline went live by federal mandate, replacing the former 10-digit number. 9-8-8 can be dialed or texted for mental health crises, like dialing 9-1-1. This was passed into law by Congress in 2020 to help aid law enforcement and improve crisis response; now, officially all US telecommunication carriers recognize the number and can connect users by voice or text.
Tori has partnered with RP Diamond Printing and Embroidery to create signs that will feature the 988 number. Homeowners and local businesses are invited to purchase signs and display them during August to help raise awareness about the new 988 Lifeline.
Additionally, Tori has partnered with Loveland City Schools to declare the Aug. 26 Loveland High School Varsity Football match as the team’s “Mental Health Awareness” game. Student Council and HOPE Squad members will help coordinate activities to raise awareness of the 988 Lifeline. Local organization The 988 Initiative, led by Greater Cincinnati residents including students from Sycamore High School and Loveland resident David Arellano, will also support activities at the game.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of the 988 Lifeline. If we can share a sticker or a patch with the number, that may evolve into someone looking up the number and seeing what it means. It could go even farther and spark a conversation between friends or a parent and child. They could have a conversation about how to dial that number if someone is struggling,” explained Jake Hertzman, founder of The 988 Initiative.
In another show of support for mental health awareness, fans to the Loveland High School football stadium will notice a new banner along the fence. In mid-July, The 988 Initiative supplied a banner touting the 988 Lifeline and other mental health assistance resources. Tori worked with The 988 Initiative’s Arellano, a Loveland Athletic Boosters member, to have the banner placed.