Wellness in Tough Times

Part Five: Media and Storytelling

“Start the Conversation” Bul letins By Julien Hoffman and Soni Cochran

Sending newsletters and bulletins is an excellent way to capture the attention of rural community members who may not have reliable access to the internet in their home. The WTT team created a series of these mailers to reach locals in a way that is not easily missed and can be kept around the home for reference. This way, community members are routinely reminded of the wellness resources available to them in a way that is accessible to all households. In May 2020, the first issue of the “Start the Conversation” bulletin produced by the WTT team was mailed to over 7,000 households in the WTT pilot project area. The mailer featured tips on managing stress, improving sleep, staying connected while physically distanced, and the importance of checking in on friends and family. There were also resources included focused on exercise, finances, and severe weather preparedness. A second issue of the “Start the Conversation” bulletin was mailed in October 2020 to the same households in the WTT project area. The topics in this bulletin included practicing gratitude, tips on talking about mental health, fall harvest, and Nebraska Strong. A new feature involved a partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies (UNL CYF). The Wellness in Tough Times Chat Café gave rural residents an opportunity to chat with a therapist from UNL CYF about topics like self-care, resolving conflict, coping after disasters, and even grandparenting. The WTT Chat Café schedule was featured in this issue.

“I send a monthly update to 27 different high school teacher-leaders of approximately 400 future teachers. Self-care is a component of each update. I've been using information from the flyers (“Start the Conversation” bulletin) to help teachers deal with the stress of teaching during a pandemic.” — Marty Peregoy, State Advisor, Educators Rising

Lesson Learned  The production, formatting, and mailing of the “Start the Conversation” bulletin was costly. However due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the expense was well worth the investment. Going forward, online blogs and eNewsletters would be a cost-effective alternative.

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