HopeX offers a new way to address the region’s mental health crisis

The first phase of HopeX is centered around building peer-to-peer trust within the community
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 8:32 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- A new initiative launched this week in the Northland to help address the mental health crisis.

The initiative is called HopeX. It began a few years ago, when Zak Williams, the son of Robin Williams, started dedicating his life to understanding mental health and bringing attention to it.

“It’s part of my healing process, relating to my father dying by suicide,” said Williams. “I believe service is my path to healing and happiness.”

Alongside the Miller-Dwan Foundation, Williams unveiled the first phase of his psychological intervention program called Problem Management Plus (PM+) to the Northland. The Miller-Dwan Foundation is a Midwest based charity working to create a region free from mental health.

“It is really designed to train lay people in the community, to work with people in their own community,” said Traci Marciniak, the President of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.

To get HopeX off the ground, they reached out to nine trusted mental health stakeholders in the community, like PAVSA. With these groups, they hope to recruit more community partners in order to expand the local mental health workforce.

“I think people are already organically filtering to people they trust in the community,” said Sara Niemi, the Executive Director of PAVSA. “It’s really just building upon the skills of those people.”

The first phase of HopeX is centered around building peer-to-peer trust within the community, as well as making mental health services available to everyone.

“So, it becomes incredibly accessible to for people who maybe don’t have the best access to services or care, or maybe have some trust issues with corporate health care,” said Marciniak.

Williams saying HopeX is a first of its kind tool for the region, in the battle against the mental health crisis across the country. He says that with this new resource, people’s lives will begin to change for the better.

“I literally pinch myself sometimes that I get to do this,” said Williams. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The next two phases of HopeX will start in the next few years.

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