Hope survey for all

Focus on mental health, substance use

This photo provided by the Western UP Health Department includes a QR code which can be scanned with phone cameras to access the survey online.

HOUGHTON — A coalition called Building a Resilient Copper Country (BARCC) is conducting an online, five-county survey called the Hope Survey. The purpose of the anonymous survey is to gain a better understanding of our community’s ideas, beliefs, experiences, and attitudes as they relate to mental health.

“It’s a survey that has been put together by a coalition of local agencies, including Dial Help, the Western Upper Peninsula Health Dept., U.P. Kids, the CCISD, and Keweenaw Support 4 Healthy Minds,” said Michelle Morgan, a retired psychiatrist. who is a member of Keweenaw Support 4 Healthy Minds. “We all put this survey together, because we want to ask the community what their experience is, what they’re beliefs and opinions are about mental health and substance use issues.”

The goal of the survey, which closes on Apr. 15, 2023, is to compile the answers and share the collective information with the residents of the five western counties (Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon) of the western U.P.

“This is new,” said Morgan. “We haven’t done anything like this before.”

Hospitals and health departments conduct public surveys, she said, but the Hope Survey is focused on mental health issues and substance use.

“And it’s something that has developed really from all of our agencies. We’ve all wanted to put something like this out there to get the information, then give it back and see what the community thinks about it and wants to do about it.”

Morgan said the survey addresses childhood trauma, but it also asks about positive childhood experiences that might protect the person from consequences later on in life.

It addresses substance use, both drug and alcohol and mental health issues, including attempts to seek treatment or beliefs about stigma. All of those issues that combine together to make people in the Copper Country, and across the country, at increased risk for suicide. Suicide questions are on the survey, also.

Childhood trauma can include abuse, neglect, family dysfunction and yes — school bullying. Childhood trauma, mental health issues and substance use are often commonalities impacting a person in many ways.

A common conception in the western U.P. is that there is no help available for those who want and/or need it, there are no options, and that there is little hope, to balance prevailing stigma.

“There are options,” said Morgan. “Yes, there are. That’s one of the reasons we want to do this survey: Because we think that there are a lot of things that aren’t known and that funding agencies, and foundations, might be very interested to know how many people experience this kind of trauma in our area, or how many people have this belief about suicide or substance use. We want to find out what people think, then we can use that information to get services directed toward those issues.”

Morgan’s group, Keweenaw Support 4 Healthy Minds, is among the most active in the region in seeking answers. The vision of the group, according to its social media page, is support healthy minds through connection and community. The group’s mission and values include eliminating stigma by talking more openly about mental health, as well as to:

• increase awareness about mental health;

• Educate groups about how to listen/talk about mental health (health care);

• Reduce stigma and shame;

• Empower people with lived experience.

This also includes, the webpage states, improving communications about available resources and to build a support network that includes advocates who can maneuver through the various systems.

“I think it will be very enlightening for all of us to find out things that people may not be comfortable talking about in public,” said Morgan, “but with an anonymous survey, they can feel free to express how they feel about things and also tell about their experiences that may put them at greater risk for mental health and substance use problems.”

Every community member is encourage to take the survey. It can be viewed at www.keweenawhopesurvey.com.


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