In Honor of Cam
Stephanie Goetz founded the Goetz Mental Wellness Initiative in 2012 to honor the life of her brother, Cam Goetz, who died by suicide one day before his 20th birthday on Aug. 11, 2002.
“I don’t want there to be any more Cam’s, any more sisters losing their big brother,” Goetz said. “Our proactive solutions that work to end the stigma of mental health will save lives.”
Stephanie was surrounded by the support of her parents, Bob and Susan Goetz, her family and friends as well as founding board members, Nancy Jordheim, Dr. L. Read Sulik and Abby Tow.
To better reflect our mission, the services provided by the Goetz Wellness Initiative became known as Imagine Thriving. Imagine Thriving knows that too many have lost hope. Once hope is gone, struggling students, parents and adults lose the ability to visualize what thriving would look or feel like.
And that is Imagine Thriving’s mission: To unite and create resources so that everyone has the tools, skills and supports so they can feel hope – so they can imagine thriving.
Stephanie Goetz with Cam
Photo credit – thanks to The Forum
Imagine Thriving promotes mental well-being for all ages through direct service to families and individuals, financial support for costs associated with medical expenses, community engagement and the promotion of educational resources. Imagine Thriving is an initiative of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota.
Through our comprehensive two-pronged approach, Imagine Thriving actively engages families, individuals, and communities to raise awareness and understanding of mental well-being.
What We Do
Community-Based Behavioral Health Services
Imagine Thriving provides direct mental well-being services to families and individuals. From our Skills Coaching program, Caregiver Connect discussions and the Access to Care Fund, opportunities exist for individuals of all ages to flourish and imagine themselves thriving. Our Community-Based Behavioral Health Services includes:
Designed to add another layer of support for North Dakotans with mental health diagnoses, the Skills Coaching program sends specially trained behavioral health coaches into communities to work with people where they learn, work and live.
The coaches help model, practice and develop certain skills (ranging from job interview strategies and home organization to budgeting and emotional-regulation tactics) with clients whose functioning has been affected by their mental health. This program is currently available to people of all ages who have a mental health diagnosis.
As a caregiver, it’s incredibly difficult to watch your loved one struggles with a mental health concern. Parents, spouses or adult children taking care of the ailing parents often feel alone, helpless and unsupported. It can be powerful and healing to connect with other caregivers who are going through or have gone through similar experiences.
Access to Care Fund:
Specifically designed for parents working to provide their children with mental health support, the Access to Care Fund helps relieve financial costs associated with mental health care. Expenses such as transportation to appointments, co-pays, and prescriptions create a financial strain for families and can result in a child going without care. The fund is designed to alleviate those roadblocks that prevent children from getting the assistance they need.
Imagine Thriving actively engages and works with communities and schools looking to raise awareness and understanding of mental well-being. Through film screenings, student-led presentations, peer-to-peer discussions, and gatherings designed to encourage healthy conversation and education, our programs are developed to discuss both the signs of distress and how to “be well.”
As part of our outreach initiative, Imagine Thriving creates understanding and eliminates the stigma surrounding mental health through age-appropriate education. Our conversations detail the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and the steps students and community members should take to “be well.”
Our work lessens the barriers around mental well-being, including the lack of awareness and understanding adults and students face regarding mental-health issues, and limited awareness about resources and other support services students and caregivers can turn to when in need of help.
A Look into the Past
Stephanie Goetz, the former TV anchor, founded the Goetz Mental Wellness Initiative in 2012 to honor her brother, Cam Goetz, who died by suicide one day before his 20th birthday on Aug. 11, 2002.
Stephanie was surrounded by the support of her parents, Bob and Susan Goetz, her family and her friends, as well as founding board members, Nancy Jordheim, Dr. L. Read Sulik and Abby Tow.
To better reflect our mission, the initiative’s services became known as Imagine Thriving. We knew that too many have lost hope, and cannot visualize what thriving would look or feel like. That’s was and is our mission, to unite and create resources so that everyone has the tools, skills and supports to again feel hope – to again Imagine Thriving.
Imagine Thriving started our advocacy and education work by engaging with school staff, health providers and community members in the Fargo-Moorhead community. Together, we identified the barriers to mental wellness faced by youth, and actively engaged to dismantle those barriers.
Since 2012, Imagine Thriving has worked to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health through education, distribution of resources and increased access to care.
In 2013, Imagine Thriving led an effort to increase access to mental-health support by working with local school officials to station Student Wellness Facilitators (SWFs) in area high schools. These specially trained school mental-health personnel connected students and their parents/guardians to appropriate mental-healthcare providers and helped to ensure that struggling students had a strong network of care and support. Imagine Thriving provided funding for the salaries of two SWFs in Fargo Public Schools and one for Moorhead Area Public Schools. Those positions have maintained their presence in the schools, even as their duties and titles have evolved to better integrate directly with the school districts.
The opportunity for ongoing program development and expansion presented itself in January 2019, when Imagine Thriving became part of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. As part of this evolution, the reach of Imagine Thriving now extends to individuals of all ages in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“This joining-together expands the core community mental-health work of Imagine Thriving in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo metro area, but it also allowed us to start replicating Imagine Thriving’s work in communities across North Dakota,” said Nancy Jordheim, founding board member and past chair of Imagine Thriving. “Together, more children and more families in need are helped, by reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences and increasing resiliency through promoting protective factors. We are excited about what 2019 and the years ahead will mean. It is possible for these children and their families to imagine thriving in ways they may not have thought previously possible. “
Through the support of generous donors, in less than six years, Imagine Thriving successfully helped elevate the level of community conversation around the issue of youth mental health and the need to remove barriers to kids’ mental well-being. It created innovative programs and solutions to help students in the Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo schools.
That work continues today, expanding around the region to help all individuals imagine what it is, what it feels like, to thrive.