Marshall Co. Resiliency Center Kicks Off Spirit Week August 17
A Marshall County center focusing on community-wide mental health services is opening August 17. The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is funding the Marshall County Resiliency Center in response to the 2018 Marshall County High School shooting. The new resiliency center is directly connected with the Merryman House, a domestic violence protection program serving western Kentucky. Dr. Mary Foley, Executive Director of the Merryman House, spoke with “Sounds Good” host Tracy Ross about the benefits the new resiliency center could bring to the area.
Foley says the center will serve individuals through community connection and specialized mental health referrals.
“I think you could very easily conclude that the need is great. And some folks may not even really see that they have a need. But what we know is that when a community goes through a traumatic event, like a mass shooting, we often also see spikes and substance abuse spikes in mental health crises,” Foley said. “A retriggering of individual trauma history, so maybe someone that was a victim of a sexual assault and feel like they have dealt with that, but then they went through the shooting and so now seems like their trauma response is triggered in a different way.”
Resiliency center leaders received consulting from a nationally known psychologist, Dr. Kevin Beckers. Beckers assisted in the response to tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing and Sandy Hook shooting.
“We never expected anything like that to come to our region. And so, Dr. Becker came in and acted as a consultant of sorts,” Foley said. “So, out of that relationship with Dr. Becker, when things began to just maybe move into another phase of response, he had a conversation with us about whether or not we felt like we had ever given any thought to a resiliency center. And I'll be honest, I had not heard of a resiliency center.”
Foley describes the Marshall County Resiliency Center as more of a concept than a place. She said resiliency centers are across the nation wherever a major type of tragedy occurs.
“What it actually is, is an opportunity for the community to come together and for folks to help the community identify what its needs might be,” Foley said. “So, in our work with Dr. Becker, he began to educate our team on the Harvard relationship and intersectionality between domestic violence and mass violence. While that may not be the case in the Marshall County shooting, he helped us to see as the region's domestic crisis provider, how we might have a much more linked role than than we understood.”
Along with mental health referrals the center will offer community groups and education opportunities. Foley said the community connection is essential to building community resilience. Specialized mental health services trained clinicians will be available for anyone affected by the events of the shooting. That includes the grief process, healing process, and symptoms of traumatic stress.
The Marshall County Resiliency Center will host an open house followed by a “spirit week” beginning August 17 - 21.
“You know, this really is an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the resiliency that's already been taking place in our community to get kids off to a maybe a strong and focused start for the school year,” Foley said. “We would love for the community to come out, take a look at what's available to them, to be proud of what's available to them, and to find their place.”