The Ohio Parks and Recreation Department has recognized Lorain County Metro Parks (LCMP) with a first place award for a collaborative suicide prevention campaign in the parks.
In 2018, the park district teamed up with the Lorain County Board of Mental Health to incorporate resources into the parks for those who might be facing a crisis.
The park district created stickers with Crisis Hotline information and placed them strategically on trail markers. More than 250 stickers were placed in remote areas, including locations where individuals have taken their own lives. The Crisis Hotline information is a statewide initiative to extend a voice when people need it most. Crisis Hotline posters also were placed at trailheads and restrooms.
“In receiving this award, it is a great honor to be acknowledged by our peers throughout the state of Ohio in helping to address this serious matter,” said Jim Ziemnik, LCMP director. “We are privileged to work with the Lorain County Board of Mental Health, especially Dr. Kathleen Kern and Clare Rosser, in helping to address mental health issues in the LCMP and throughout all of Lorain County.
“Overall, we are thrilled to work with many of our local health care professionals in encouraging our residents to utilize the parks to address a multitude of health care issues,” he added. “We are pleased that research continues to show how parks and nature have profound positive impacts on individuals’ mental health.”
As part of the campaign, the Board of Mental Health authored an article for the park newsletter titled “Change your brain, just by walking.”
“The Lorain County Board of Mental Health is grateful to the LCMP for stepping up as a true community partner in our county’s collaborative efforts to address the problem of suicide,” said Dr. Kern, executive director of the Lorain County Board of Mental Health. “The creative outreach that has been done as a result of this collaboration allows for essential public health information on suicide to be shared with a cohort of the public who may need to hear mental health messaging but may not have sought it out on their own.”
Throughout the state, 150 programs and projects were nominated. The awards were judged by a panel of parks and recreation professionals from around Ohio.
Photo left to right: LCMP Assistant Director Jennifer Bracken, LCMP Chief Ranger Paul J. Hruby, Lorain County Board of Mental Health Executive Director Dr. Kathleen Kern, LCMP Director James E. Ziemnik.