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We Are More Alike Than Different

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A collaborative project between Solomon’s Song and Hiawatha Valley Mental Health came together under the warm Saturday morning sun yesterday. May is mental health awareness month, and the two organizations concluded the last weekend with a reminder of how people can make a connection through shared human qualities.

Solomon’s Song’s very mission is to foster community connections, and it did so by allowing people to connect different personal qualities with an array of colorful yarn.

The beginning peg was located in the middle of the entire circle, and proudly read “I am worthy!”

“I thought that would be a good start, because everyone’s worthy,” Carol Daul-Elhindi, co-founder of Solomon’s Song said.

The starting point was surrounded by a variety of different pegs that represented various qualities of people from all backgrounds. The board showed many traits such as “I enjoy cooking/baking for others,” right next to other pegs labeled “I have experienced depression and/or anxiety.”

This interaction allowed for people to realize how much more they have in common rather than their differences, and the end result was a collaborative and vibrant piece of art. Colorful strands of yarn crisscrossed the board as they were tied from one peg to the next, allowing people to see the personal points of intersection they shared with others.

“We are working to normalize conversations about mental health, and we’re really working to stomp out the stigma surrounded by mental health in many forms,” Daul-El Hindi said.

The educational aspects of the activity were coupled with the fun of contributing to a shared piece of artistic expression.

Cosette Nelson, who completed connecting a string of yarn with her two friends, said “I feel like all the different colors and all of the different strings in this big web kind of symbolize how everyone interacts with each other in a way.”

As people continued to add to the picture, the wood surface it stood against became almost completely obscured by the many colors that were tightly woven across it.

Executive Director of Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Julie Hansen said “We’ve been working with Solomon’s song for the past nine months or so, trying to bring awareness, particularly in the Winona Community.”

Since then, the two groups have worked together on different projects, arranging different talks and presentations with experts on mental illness.

Some may see a mental health condition as a flaw of character, or as internal problems that can be fixed with a simple attitude adjustment. However, the chemistry of one’s brain can be affected by countless factors, and outside observers don’t always put the entire picture into context.

“Health is holistic,” Hansen said. “There’s physical health, and then there’s mental health. And they affect one another.”

The effort to change the conversation and the public’s view of mental health issues is part of the work done by both the Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center and the nonprofit organization of Solomon’s Song.

People may experience several different types of mental illness, including substance abuse, severe mood changes, and other various disorders. No matter what they may be, the person suffering is still just that. A person. They are a person worthy of the thought it takes to comprehend their condition, and the effort it may take to remove any ignominy behind it.

“We are working to normalize conversations about mental health, and we’re really working to stomp out the stigma surrounded by mental health in many forms.”Carol Daul-Elhindi,
co-founder of Solomon’s Song
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