Forward Wayne County is continuing the February focus on Health and Wellness with a guest blogger. We asked Jess Przybysz, Director of Community Benefit and Engagement at Reid Health, to discuss the importance of our mental health and the role Reid Community Benefit plays in the community.

Mental Health is Health

If you’ve had a conversation with me, whether in a personal or professional setting, you may have noticed my focus on promoting mental health and wellness. I believe in reducing stigma, using person-first language, and encouraging self-care in all interactions. While we take our physical health seriously, it is equally important to prioritize our mental well-being. So what is stopping us?

It’s important to me to help others feel heard, valued, and supported. I strive to create an inclusive, safe, and authentic environment for all. Those I’ve worked with know that I am full of ideas, projects and creative ways to bring people together who share those same values and who want to make a difference – big or small. In fact, many may see me at the grocery store and quickly turn around and go down the other aisle, so they aren’t roped into another project. Yes you, I know who you are.

I am eager to make an impact and willing to put in the work to see positive changes in our community surrounding mental health. In April of 2023, I received the opportunity to use my passion and creativity in an impactful way in our community, by serving as the Director of Community Benefit and Engagement at Reid Health. I quickly found my purpose and serving in this role has allowed to me to help others, help others.

Leading Our Communities to Well-Being

Reid Health’s impact on our communities goes well beyond healthcare. Our mission of “leading our communities to well-being, one person at a time” reflects our commitment to giving back through various community initiatives, including our Community Benefit. In 2023, we released the results of a thorough Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), conducted in 2022, to identify the top three health needs in our area. These prioritized needs include mental health and substance misuse, physical activity, nutrition and weight, and maternal, infant, and children’s health. These needs were determined through extensive discussions and collaboration with key stakeholders, community leaders, and community members. As a not-for profit health system, Reid is required to complete this assessment every three years and subsequently develop an implementation plan that details how we will work to improve the health indicators in our service area.

Reid Gives Grants

In 2024, there are three grant cycles, each offering $100,000 in grant awards. The first cycle centers around mental health and substance misuse. It began on January 22, 2024, and concluded on February 23, 2024. Funding will be allocated to organizations that demonstrate the ability to enhance health indicators related to this area of focus. For further information on our grants and eligibility criteria, please visit our website. You will find a wealth of valuable resources and data that could be meaningful to your work.

Now What?

Now, you may be asking yourself, what can I do to improve my mental health? How does this apply to me? I challenge you to try a few things. Be in the moment and intentional with all that you do and be kind. These simple practices can help you improve the way you feel and can easily influence others. Small gestures, such as saying hello to a stranger, offering support to those facing challenges, or holding the door for the person behind you can go a long way. It may require putting your phone down (I know, it’s hard!), but the benefits of being intentional in our actions are manifold.

Together, through a collective effort to prioritize empathy and engagement, we can cultivate a more connected community. If you take away anything from reading this, I hope you find that we are all in this together. One person or one organization cannot carry the heaviness of what our communities need. However, when we come together that is where the magic happens. Be kind, do the right thing and hold the door for a stranger, I promise you won’t regret it.

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