As Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week comes to a close, the Joseph Maley Foundation knows it is necessary to continue the conversation about mental health. With this knowledge, we look toward the future of mental health education in central Indiana, and sit down with JMF’s newest staff member, Allison Capella, for our last blog of the week. We speak with Allison about her goals for HOPE and why she believes that mental health education is still so incredibly important for our local youth.
Originally from a corporate human resources background, Allison’s journey to the Joseph Maley Foundation came from her desire to find a work environment that held similar values to her own: “I was looking for something that was very intrinsically motivating to me, that really was about shaping or changing one person’s life at a time.” After some time spent volunteering for JMF, Allison felt that the Foundation was the right place for her, and began the process of stepping into the manager role for the HOPE Program.
In addition, mental health is a deeply important topic for Allison, and one of the reasons why she saw herself managing HOPE, “I’ve seen a number of individuals impacted in a variety of ways from mental illness, and I feel it is important to proactively step into that space and try and make a positive difference.” HOPE makes those proactive steps by introducing the topic of mental health to some of the youngest among us, “I think equipping children to be able to label their feelings and identify why they feel that way is super powerful in the long run, especially later on in their lives.” With curriculum for all grade levels encompassing mental, emotional, social, and physical health, HOPE begins a conversation with students about what they are feeling, and why they are feeling that way, so that they can know when it is time to seek help.
HOPE, however, is not just for individuals who experience mental illness, it is for everyone, “Even if an individual isn’t the one who is directly impacted by mental illness, we have the opportunity to create additional support systems for those around them who experience mental illness.” Allison said. The HOPE Program encourages everyone to identify that they can be an advocate for those around them, especially when it comes to the mental well-being of their friends, their families, and their peers. This is done through teaching kindness, acceptance, and respect for everyone — core values of the Joseph Maley Foundation — and also through initiatives like We Step Up (read our May 8 blog post for more information about We Step Up and its role within HOPE).
In looking toward the future of HOPE, Allison says her goals include making the program more accessible, and to increase awareness about HOPE’s ability to bring mental health education to a community that needs it. Allison knows that mental health awareness education can make a difference not only in central Indiana, but in the world, “I fundamentally believe that when we all collectively realize our own unique strengths, and bring them together, that we make the world a better place.”