Mental Health Collaboration Needed More than Ever

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Executive Director of Cobb Collaborative Irene Barton
Credit: Contributed—AJC

by Kathryn Kickliter, For the AJC

The groundwork for a new initiative was started last fall through the support of the Cobb and Douglas public health departments. Little did anyone anticipate what 2020 would bring and the increased need for Cobb Collaborative’s “Mind Your Mind” mental health campaign.

“Pre-COVID, I became exposed to more folks who were in the mental and behavioral health space across the community of both counties,” said Executive Director of Cobb Collaborative Irene Barton.

The nonprofit “serves as the local partner for the state-wide network known as the Georgia Family Connection Partnership,” according to their website.

The network brings over 3,000 local- and state-level partners together in all 159 Georgia counties and is the only statewide network in the country dedicated to the health and well-being of families and communities, according to Barton.

“I don’t want to argue with public health experts—where we are in our waves of the pandemic—but everyone can agree that the crushing layers of economic, financial, social isolation and the public health emergency have impacted us all,” she said.

Life was not without stressors before the pandemic, but the “new normal” has shifted many into dangerous places.

Mind Your Mind takes a proactive approach in addressing the need for mental health support to change and improve outcomes for children and families in the community.

The initiative works on raising awareness, promoting resiliency and reducing stigma through training workshops, panel presentations, communications with social media platforms and connecting with other organizations.

“The National Association for Mental Illness tells us that one out of five adults in America suffer from some mental challenge or have a mental health condition, but it does not have to be one’s destiny,” she said.

She said it takes the work of everybody to change the conversation and to normalize the dialogue around mental health, adding that it is okay to say you need help.

“Working collectively to uplift one another, we will be in a better place to withstand all that we are going through,” Barton said.

For more information, visit or call 678-766-5574.

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