The Bartow County School System, along with the Bartow County business and faith community, unite for an unprecedented, first of its kind, 10-month mental health campaign called Everybody has a Story and Somebody Cares…in Bartow County.
“In the last few years, we’ve endured a pandemic, lockdowns, financial stress, and many other challenges,” said Dr. David Ferguson, executive director of Relational Values Alliance. “These have taken a toll on the already challenged relational health and emotional wellness of our communities.”
“The statistics in America are astounding,” added David Franklin, executive director of the Bartow Baptist Association. “Stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness are the highest in our lifetime. Presently, 73 percent of teenagers say they are lonely. The latest poll revealed 87 percent of all Americans surveyed are stressed and anxious concerning inflation, the economy, world events, and more.”
Bartow County school counselors also report a greater number of students experiencing stress, anxiety, and loneliness in the wake of the pandemic. That prompted the formation of a 25-member Student Mental Health subcommittee, which includes principals, parents, counselors, and community leaders.
“Whether at school, work, church, or at home, EVERYBODY has a STORY of how they’ve been impacted by these stresses,” said Dr. Ferguson. “The good news is that when SOMEBODY communicates that they CARE, we are a little less alone. And it’s these caring connections that improve our outlook on life and overall mental and emotional health.”
We are committing to the emotional wellness of our community by focusing on specific and intentional relational words each month, such as respect, support, approval, and appreciation.
Starting in August, with the word respect, you may see celebrity public service announcements, videos or activities at work and school, or even sermons from your pastor or youth pastor that focus on relational values.
The entire community felt compelled to unite and help build a better Bartow.
“Not every organization or community slows down from the daily challenges and stress long enough to improve the human-to-human caring connections which can produce dramatic improvements in a wide range of symptoms like anxiety, addictions and depression, family conflicts, employee turnover at work, and even school performance,” added Dr. Ferguson. “We continue to affirm your county leaders for their vision in this initiative and for their unusual, unified commitment to the relational and emotional wellness of your community.”
Relational Values Alliance is an integral part of this campaign. Dr. Ferguson and his team have poured significant money, time, and resources into the community, even though they live more than 1,000 miles away.
RVA is in the process of developing a website, bartowcares.com, and generating monthly promotional posters, social media assets, and free downloadable digital materials that will support a focus on ten, key relational values in the community.
“Rarely do we see a community like Bartow County,” said Dr. Ferguson. “It’s because of Bartow’s unity of vision and unity among the leadership that we wanted to invest here. Your leaders want to move beyond their own silos and serve a broader community vision. That’s unique.”
The vision includes not just talking about relational values, but helping people practice them.
“We hope students will see that in addition to their parents, there are trusted adults in their schools and community who they can turn to for support,” added Dr. Brent Shropshire, director of counselors, college readiness, wellness, and fine arts in Bartow County Schools. “As we’re coming out of the pandemic, we want to increase mental health awareness and understanding, and we want students to know we’re all in this together.”
To follow the development of the campaign and contribute to its successes, please search and use the hashtag #BartowCares4U on social media.