Red ribbons with messages of hope and encouragement have been popping up around Barrington, thanks to the “My Red Said” project. The mental health awareness initiative kicked off this week, led by Barrington resident and mother-of-two, Jessica Hutchison, a licensed clinical therapist with Behavioral Psychology Associates.
Mental health challenges which arose or intensified during the Covid-19 pandemic remain a hardship for many. Hutchison hopes the “My Red Said” ribbons with hand-written messages from the community will be a visible reminder that help is available in many forms.
“The mission of My Red Said is to let people in our community know that they are not alone and encourage those who are struggling to speak up and ask for help,” says Hutchison. “There are always options. There is always an ear ready to listen. And we are always stronger together.”
Hutchison brought together a group of local mental health and community resources to support the initiative which, in addition to Behavioral Psychology Associates, includes BStrong Together, the Barrington School District 220, Barrington Youth & Family Services, Samaritan Counseling Center and NAMI Barrington Area along with local media outlets and businesses.
The campaign is gaining momentum as seen by red ribbons already hanging on local business storefronts like Cook Street Coffee where owner, Mike Shipley, says he’s happy to participate.
“It is really encouraging for us seeing the ribbons on the window,” Mike says. “My Red Said is such a great idea and a really important message. It’s a good reminder that we’re all in this together and we all struggle. It’s a nice dose of love and encouragement.”
Cook Street Coffee patrons are invited to share their messages of hope on ribbons found at the coffee bar to add to the growing collection already hanging for all to see.
How to Participate
Show Your Support with a Red Ribbon
Members of the community are encouraged to pick up a red ribbon through Saturday, March 6th at three area locations – Cook Street Coffee (100 E. Station St.), Samaritan Counseling Center offices (1000 Hart Rd. in Barrington) and Kaleidoscope School of Fine Art (316 W. Main Street). From there, individual ribbons can be hung outside of one’s home. Business owners can hang a ribbon in windows outside of their storefront. Ribbons can be hung without anything on them as a way of saying, “You are not alone” or, messages of hope can be written on the ribbons showing support for others in our community. Project organizers ask that ribbons be hung by Sunday, March 7, 2021, marking the beginning of My Red Said week.
Go Red on Social Media
Show and extend your support for this initiative by putting a red square on your social media pages starting Thursday, March 4. If comfortable, share your own “my red said” struggle in your caption. Or, just simply post the red square on your Facebook and Instagram walls (and stories) in support. Right click and save the My Red Said image below to share on your pages. Hashtags for the initiative are: #MyRedSaid #MyRedSaidStruggle #RedSaidConversation
More images of red ribbons that have been hung all around town will be unveiled on Monday, March 8, 2021 across social media, along with personal notes from the community on their struggles, and their messages of hope. Click HERE to submit your own personal message to show others they are not alone in their feelings. Submitting your name and e-mail address is required, but you can note if you want to be anonymous in any future My Red Said marketing efforts.
Where to Go for Help
“While the red ribbon awareness piece is crucial, so too is the call-to-action,” said Hutchison. “We’ve created a My Red Said Web page that includes a list of resources for members of our community.”
The Resource page, found HERE will include a list of all therapists in and around the community who are currently accepting new clients. The list will be continuously updated and includes all relevant information to ensure that the process of asking for help is an easy one. The page will also include links to community partners who can help.
“This project is a great example of the community coming together to further the dialogue that it is okay to not be okay,” says Betsy Wintringer, Executive Director of Barrington Youth and Family Services (BYFS). “We are proud to support My Red Said and to be here for those in need throughout our community.”
According to recent research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, young adults have experienced a number of pandemic-related consequences. During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and or depressive disorder (56%). Compared to all adults, young adults are more likely to report substance use (25% vs. 13%) and suicidal thoughts (26% vs. 11%).
“When the weight of the world becomes too difficult to bear, we often turn away from the very people that we need the most. Depression and anxiety love isolation. In fact, they thrive in a world cut off from connection. My hope is that My Red Said is one small effort that can help us unite and heal together as a community,” concluded Hutchison.
Jessica Hutchison opens up about a deeply personal mental health experience in a recent interview with Quintessential Barrington Magazine. Click HERE for that story. For more information about Jessica Hutchison, her practice and the My Red Said initiative, visit JLHutchison.com/MyRedSaid.