Started in February, the statewide initiative called WY We Talk aims to help educate people in Wyoming about the need to address mental health issues that often go unsaid.

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Wyoming currently has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and WY We Talk aims to change that, and is partnered with the Wyoming Prevention Action Alliance which is through the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police.

Hailey Bloom, community prevention director for Natrona County, said mental health is even more important now due to the impact COVID-19 has had on people.

"I think as we're recovering from the pandemic, mental health is emerging and more important more than ever," Bloom said. "Any way we can get our community to open up and feel comfortable talking with one another and seeking out the help and resources they need the better off we'll be."

Bloom said the attitudes people have in Wyoming not to talk about mental health plays a role in the high suicide rate.

"People I think are stigmatized and don't want to talk about mental health or suicide or feel like the Wyoming way is to just suck it up and deal with it. We want to change those norms and change those conversations, so that's why we started the WY We Talk campaign."

The campaign put out advertisements online and through radio in November and December due to there typically being an increase in suicides and isolation.

Bloom said the campaign will go on throughout the year, and will cover a variety of topics, from underage drinking to drug use in Natrona County.

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