Maema Njongmeta

Maema Njongmeta, UW Badger linebacker, discussed mental health at Belleville Community Wellness Days.

The Belleville Community Health Improvement Project (BCHIP) offered a wellness chat with UW Badger linebacker Maema Njongmeta, co-founder and director of athletic engagement for UNCUT, as part of its Belleville Community Wellness Days in July.  The collaboration with UNCUT, a student-led and athlete-driven organization that encourages athletes to share their stories to reduce mental health stigma, is just one of the many partnerships formed over BCHIP’s 35-year history.

What started as a collaboration with the UW Department of Family Medicine and Community Health to improve the physical and mental health of Belleville residents has grown to provide services like the Belleville Community Assistance Program (BCAP), a fund that directly supports families who have emergency needs for housing, utilities and food and provides referrals for financial, health and wellness, and mental health services.

BCHIP also partners with non-profit organizations, civic agencies (public health, public schools, public safety), healthcare agencies and individuals to develop and expand programming to address health issues that are directly impacting residents, like mental health and affordable housing.

Sara Arscott, MS, PhD

Osher Center for Integrative Health at UW Madison Program Manager Sara Arscott, MS, PhD, led a mindfulness meditation break during Belleville Community Health Wellness Days.

“We know that unstable housing and food insecurity often correspond to and even trigger depression, anxiety and suicidality,” shared BCHIP President Laura Kolden. “Ultimately we felt that mental health is something that impacts our whole community and hope this event will encourage the community to work together toward creating a safer and healthier community for all.”

Other events BCHIP supports include a post-prom party to ensure youth have a drug and alcohol-free place to gather, health fairs, community runs and walks for suicide awareness, and a community volunteer fair. BCHIP also sponsors scholarships for Belleville High School youth to support post-secondary education and holds regular luncheons and roundtable discussions to learn directly from community members about the health-related issues that matter to them.

The Community Wellness Days are also an effort to increase visibility in the community as BCHIP continues to forge new partnerships and encourage new members to join their efforts with plans that include additional community run/walks and breakfasts.

“In the future we hope to address community health on a systems level and work to reduce the stigma around mental health, poverty, domestic and community violence, and racial equity so that all people can access the resources they need,” added Kolden.

For more information about the Belleville Community Health Improvement Project:

Published: June 2023 | Updated: Sept 2023