Spark the Conversation about mental health

As we near the end of 2021, Nature’s Grace and Wellness is proud and excited to share some of our insights and experiences so far in our initiative with Spark the Conversation. This initiative, created in 2020, has been at the forefront of leading efforts within Illinois towards breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and cannabis. Our leaders Alia Reichert and Cynthia Guzman share some of their experiences and takeaways from their time as organizers in these efforts. The following interview is meant to provide some insight for those who would like to know more about this program and why we believe it is so important today and for the future.

Q: Why is this initiative meaningful to you and what is your role?

Reichert: Having struggled with mental health, in the past and currently, really pushed me towards participating in an effort I truly believe uplifts everyone involved. I believe people need to have an opportunity to be heard and to moreover learn to have these conversations without the fear of judgment from others. We all have our personal battles, and it’s nice to know that there are people who care about your mental well-being; it’s such a crucial part of our overall health.

Spark Workshop at GreenGate Chicago

Q: Can you describe some of your outreach operations?

Guzman: We make a huge effort to keep track of all dispensaries currently opening and that will open in Illinois in order to reach out and offer our Spark the Conversation program. This program consists of dispensary visits with an educational focus to present crucial information, such as statistics, coping mechanisms, and resources for industry workers to have. We also take these opportunities to share experiences and hold important mental health conversations with people working in the industry.

Q: How has cannabis helped or impacted the level of receptivity towards the issue?

Reichert: Personally, cannabis has always helped me manage my anxiety and in “relaxing my brain.” I’ve been able to nurture the creative within me and heal the physical parts of myself that would’ve otherwise been treated with medication that negatively impacts other aspects of myself. Of course, everyone is different, and it’s important to recognize that as well. Despite my use of cannabis, I still have issues that I struggle with personally, things that cannabis can’t address. That’s why seeking help is so important, and understanding that you are not flawed for doing so is even more meaningful.

Spark Workshop at Mission South Chicago

Q: How do you hope to expand these efforts in the future?

Guzman: We are currently working on our Spark Ambassador program. We get really good feedback and interest from attendees who would either like to participate in our efforts or continue to receive the educational resources we provide. Our ambassador program hopes to gather these passionate individuals and give them the tools to be a mental health advocate in their own communities. As more and more dispensaries and cannabis industry workers come online, we hope to expand and continue developing our educational platform.

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