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Change Direction for Businesses

The Change Direction initiative is a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.

By bringing together this unprecedented and diverse group of leaders we plan to spark a movement that:

  • frees us to see our mental health as having equal value to our physical health
  • creates a common language that allows us to recognize the signs of emotional suffering in ourselves and others
  • encourages us to care for our mental well-being and the mental well-being of others
  • The simplest pledge is one that anyone can do is to learn the 5 signs of suffering so you can identify and help yourself, a colleague or a loved one who may be in emotional pain

Why the 5 signs of suffering?

In order to change our culture, we must begin with some very basic steps. One of which is a shared language that helps all Americans recognize when someone they know is suffering emotionally. The 5 Signs serve as the anchor for the first phase of this national campaign. They are simple, observable indicators that everyone can learn. These are signs that we often see – but don't always understand. And most people don't know what to do when they see them in themselves or others. These are not diagnoses. The signs cut across diagnoses. They are indicators of emotional suffering in general, not specific signs of a given disorder or condition.

What does our "call to action" look like?

We want to encourage people to act when they do recognize these signs –to reach out, connect, and offer to help those in need. It may require more than one try to reach someone in need. It may require bringing in other people to help.

There are many great programs and efforts in communities across the country—and right here. A key goal of this effort is to help people identify suffering in themselves and others AND take action to get help. Once people begin paying better attention to their mental well being – and the well being of others, we will have moved the needle on this issue. Once people recognize the signs of emotional suffering – like we now recognize the signs of a heart attack - fewer people will suffer.

What can I do as a local business owner or leader?

If you haven't gotten on board and signed the pledge, do it now. Use the resources in the Tool Kit to educate your colleagues on why it's important to have a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace. Educate your staff on the 5 Signs of Suffering and how to reach out or provide support for a co-worker.

Can I invite others to be part of the movement?

Send contact information to Teresa Pulvermacher at Feel free to call (608) 782-5029 extension 3439 or 3448 with questions, concerns or ideas.

Who do I contact about volunteer opportunities?

If you would like to help at an event or have an event you would like a Change Direction booth at, please contact Deb Mahr at

Are speakers available for my upcoming event?

Speakers may be available to address community groups, classrooms, professional organizations and others upon request. Please contact Deb Mahr at with your request information (date, time, location, group/audience, specific topic of interest and any other relevant information).

Who are the ideal campaign partners?

As with all campaigns, this one has many different elements and many different partners who will work within their own sector – business, military/veteran, education, nonprofit, – in ways that fit that sector. Change Direction and Give an Hour have evaluation partners that will help track the following: 1) knowledge regarding the signs of emotional suffering 2) knowledge regarding what to do when someone is suffering 3) individual attitudes about mental health 4) community attitudes about mental health (community might be the corporation, the university, the platoon or unit).

What does success look like?

Success is a dissemination of the 5 Signs of Suffering, and each organization that has pledged to find a way to do so, fulfilling their promise. We are convening a steering committee, with goals to change the language of mental health and to coordinate our efforts. Success will be us continuing to meet on a pre-determined schedule.

Thank you for your time and dedication to this worthy endeavor.

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