Rhonda Graf and Bruce Nordick, alongside friends and family, have embarked on a mission to provide readily accessible resources to those in need of mental health assistance called “The Bee Well Project”.
“In 2021 I lost my son to suicide, and it was just devastating. All I wanted to do was heal and feel better, and I was looking for hope. I joined a suicide awareness group in Tisdale, and they said, ‘It will get better’, and thankfully it has,” stated Rhonda Graf. “I realized that help doesn’t come looking for you, you have to find help. I worked so hard through my grief journey to find help and find hope and to try to heal, and for me that came in the form of the Bee Well Bags and trying to help other people.”
The Bee Well bags are compact reusable bags featuring the Bee Well logo. The bag contains self-assessment tools; tip sheets; important phone numbers including 9-8-8, Suicide Crisis Helpline, 2-1-1 Saskatchewan, a free 24/7/365 service that connects individuals to resources and services in the province by phone, text, web chat; and tangible calming items. For example, the kit contains stress balls and clay packs. Many useful resources are made readily available in the Bee Well Bag for people in need of immediate assistance.
“I talked to one of the local doctors, and I said, ‘Is there a need for this in the clinics, in the hospitals, in the pharmacies?’ and she said, ‘Absolutely’. Currently, they have nothing. If you go to emergency with a mental health emergency, you get [sent] to the very end of the list, and so you may not get looked after and you may just leave. At least with these bags, there are resources in the bags that can help you maybe in the moment, and lessen the risk of suicide to that particular person,” stated Graf.
“The Bell Well Project is filling a large resource gap in our district”, stated HDHF Executive Director Lorrie Bunko. “Prior to the Bee Well Project, those who were seeking mental health support had to do their own research to find what was actually available to them. The Bee Well Bag contains a wealth of information with tools that are to provide comfort. The resources were there; it took initiative for someone to take the time to gather the information and put it all together. Rhonda, Bruce, and their team took that time!”
Rhonda, Bruce, and their team of family and friends have a current focus on bringing this to a local level, with a vision to expand the Bee Well Project across Saskatchewan and possibly nationally.
“To have access to these bags, I think, is super important,” stated Graf. “There are a lot of resources that people don’t even know about. We have a new suicide hotline, which is 988, and that is live in Canada as of the end of November. We also have 211 in the province, and a lot of people don’t know about 211, and it’s completely anonymous, it’s completely private, you can phone them, you can text them, you can go on their website, and it’s got everything.”
Rhonda, Bruce, and their team began their official fundraising for this initiative in October 2023 with the J Walk for Mental Health. Since then, over $15,000.00 has been raised to fund this initiative.
The Bee Well Bags phase one distribution will include emergency departments, hospitals, physician clinics, pharmacies, first responders, and social workers throughout the Humboldt district in January 2024.