Andrea Sherwin, CEO of Mental Health America of Northwest Indiana, spends her days focused on prevention and early intervention as a means of making a dent in the staggering number of American’s who struggle with mental health issues. “Half of all Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life,” said Sherwin. The ability to function when faced with challenges and receiving accurate information about raising young children are just a couple of ways that MHANWI is practicing early intervention, as well as prevention and empowerment. First Merchants Bank has been an active participant in the work of MHANWI for several years. “First Merchants Bank and its team understands that if you can change the first five years of a child’s life, you can change the entire community. We proudly support MHANWI’s mission to strengthen the way families function for life” said John Freyek, Commercial Relationship Manager with First Merchants Bank.
“Our home visitation programs, which include Healthy Families, Parents as Teachers, and Empowering Teens as Parents, have a powerful, early impact on the families we serve,” said Sherwin. “MHANWI is the largest home visit organization in Indiana, with 15,000 home visits last year alone.” Home visiting programs help parents deal with stressors in their life while reducing the likelihood of the child growing up in an environment of toxic stress.
When Sherwin was asked what her biggest goal is for MHANWI, she was quick to answer. “I want MHANWI to be a household name. I want people to know and understand what we do so that they can be inspired by us, champion our cause and support us. We impact almost 4,000 families per year, and we need to continue our work.” Sherwin says that an easy way to help the organization move forward is for people to be advocates for the organization in the community. She urges people to continue to talk about mental health issues in an effort to decrease the stigma.
In addition to the home visitation services, MHANWI runs several programs to benefit children and families. Infant Safe Sleep is a program that promotes safe sleep practices in response to the alarming infant mortality rate in NWI. Mothers & Babies promotes bonding with baby and coping with stress. MHANWI can be supported through monetary donations, donations of gently used baby clothes, diapers, or other baby supplies. For more information on Mental Health America of NWI, visit www.mhanwi.org.
For more information on First Merchants Bank, their good works in the community, or information on their products and services, visit www.firstmerchants.com today!