STEVENS POINT – The Ascension St. Michael’s Hospital mental health unit has been awarded the Providing Hope Award from the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Coalition of Portage County, Ascension announced this week. 

The Providing Hope Award is awarded annually to individuals or agencies that provide hope to the community for people who struggle with mental health issues. The award was presented on Sept. 2.  

Education provided by the mental health unit includes information on diagnosis, coping strategies, healthy relationships and lifestyles, and how to live a full life with mental health struggles.

“All of the staff also provide patient advocacy to ensure a supportive environment and patient rights,” said Laurie Knapp-Roberts, a registered nurse and manager of behavioral health services at Ascension St. Michael’s. “They also directly support the work of the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Coalition by always lending a hand in the behind-the-scenes work for various events and projects.”

Knapp-Roberts adds that much of the credit for this award goes to Michelle Nelson, the Ascension St. Michael’s mental health unit social worker who has served as the coalition chairwoman for the past 13 years. 

“Michelle works tirelessly to reduce the stigma of mental illness, prevent suicide and educate community members about mental health and resources available in Portage County,” Knapp-Roberts said. 

If you or someone you know needs support today, the following resources are are available:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255   (Veterans – Press 1)
  • Portage County Hotline: 866-317-9362
  • Textline: Text “HOPELINE” to 741741
  • Mental Health Navigation: 715-343-7104 (free and confidential service to all residents of Portage county in need of assistance with accessing mental health and community resources.)

For more information on the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness Coalition of Portage County, call 715-346-5401.