The McLean County Health Department has named a woman dedicated to suicide prevention as the Public Health Award honoree for the community.
Colleen O'Connor works for Project Oz. Last year she started a school-based prevention program that has reached more than 2,000 students at nine schools. The health department says the program has referred dozens of students to other support services as a result of the program, some of them with depression and suicide attempts.
The health board is also praising O'Connor for reducing the stigma associated with mental illness by sharing her own story of challenges and recovery.
The board said O’Connor also makes a difference in the lives of young people by teaching Youth Mental Health First Aid classes within the community. She facilitates support groups at Chestnut Health Systems, has answered calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at PATH Crisis Center, serves as a part-time case manager in the Addiction Recovery Unit at Advocate BroMenn, and serves as executive director of the NAMI of Livingston/McLean Counties.
The board said O’Connor shines as a community leader, role model, and symbol of health and hope in McLean County.
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