Community Conversation tackles depression with humor


March 29, 2017

AMERY, Wisc. – A community conversation took a lighthearted look at a heavyweight subject on Tuesday (March 28).

The Make It OK Community Conversation took place at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis. Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) presenter John Moe talked to more than 150 people from across the St. Croix Valley about his experience with depression. He also spoke on the response he’s received to the Hilarious World of Depression podcasts.

Moe hosted those nine podcasts earlier in the year. They featured comedians talking about their depression and how they managed to laugh along the way. HealthPartners and its Make It OK campaign sponsored the podcasts. At Tuesday night’s event, Moe encouraged people to talk more about mental illness to reduce stigma.

“I’m not a doctor – I was a theater major,” he said. “All I’m doing is asking questions and talking about my own experience. What if everyone in this room just started having an honest conversation with their child, spouse, parent about mental health? About struggles you have had and struggles they have had. If people talked as much about mental health as they do about nutrition and exercise, stigma would be over tomorrow.”

A panel discussion also featured five thought leaders involved with mental health services in the St. Croix Valley. The speakers included:

  • Pat Rogers, Clinical Director, FamilyMeans
  • Dan Van Someren, Jail Captain, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office
  • Heather Erickson, Director of Behavioral Health, Amery Hospital & Clinic
  • Shelly Rock, Director of Parish Nursing, Lakeview Hospital
  • Peter VanDusartz, Director of Program Development, HealthPartners St. Croix Valley Behavioral Health

“We want our communities in the St. Croix Valley to understand that mental illness is just that – an illness,” said Ted Wegleitner, President and CEO of Lakeview Health. “Not unlike heart disease, it can be treated right here in our Valley communities.”

Members of the public interested in learning more and supporting family, friends and their community with mental health issues are invited to attend any of these free HealthPartners classes:

Speakers at the Make It OK Community Conversation, held Tuesday, March 28 at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. Pictured (left to right): Shelly Rock (Director of Parish Nursing, Lakeview Hospital), Pat Rogers (Clinical Director, FamilyMeans), Peter VanDusartz (Director of Program Development, HealthPartners St. Croix Valley Behavioral Health), John Moe (Minnesota Public Radio presenter and host of The Hilarious World of Depression), Heather Erickson (Director of Behavioral Health, Amery Hospital & Clinic), Ted Wegleitner (President and CEO, Lakeview Health), Marian Furlong (President and CEO, Hudson Hospital & Clinic), Dan Van Someren (Jail Captain, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office).

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