A cross section of local leaders is pushing forward on a wide-sweeping plan to address mental health issues in Grand Forks.

On Friday, dozens of leaders met at the Alerus Center to hash out a vision and mission statement for a mental health "call to action." The group included public health officials, education leaders, law enforcement personnel and Altru Health System staff.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

The group's tentative aim is to transform Grand Forks into a community that "effectively supports people living with behavioral health challenges," according to the group's preliminary vision.

Friday's event marked the third meeting for the call to action, said Moriah Opp, coordinator for Altru's TEARS (Together we Educate About the Realities of Suicide) project.

Catherine Gillach, assistant superintendent of secondary education for Grand Forks Public Schools, emphasized there are a few more details to hash out.

"When we come together next, we will finalize the vision and mission statement, and continue to put together some details behind what it will take to reach our goals," Gillach said.

The impetus for the call to action came from a fall meeting between Grand Forks Public Schools leaders and Altru, according to Gillach.

The two entities originally looked into ways to "better educate our community around mental health issues that tragically are manifesting themselves in really serious events," Gillach said.

"Suicide is one of the most tragic and visible examples."

Friday's meeting also afforded group members a chance to break out into subcommittees to address specific areas affected by mental health, including education and policy.

Opp estimates there were close to 45 people at the meeting, up from earlier gatherings.

"It's encouraging," she said. "There was a lot of discussion happening, and ideas being thrown out, which I think is great."