In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, the Northwest Herald newspaper will not be published May 27. Breaking news and information will be updated on NWHerald.com.
Local

McHenry County Mental Health Board highlights resources in wake of AJ Freund's death

Executive director gives tips to help ‘secondary trauma’

About 200 community members attended a vigil and mourned the loss of 5-year-old AJ Freund on April 24 on the Woodstock Square.
About 200 community members attended a vigil and mourned the loss of 5-year-old AJ Freund on April 24 on the Woodstock Square.

The streets of McHenry County are awash with reminders of two major events that have sent feelings of confusion, anger and sadness throughout the community.

Light poles throughout the area still were adorned with black and blue ribbons in memory of fallen McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner when new, lighter blue ribbons were hung in honor of 5-year-old AJ Freund.

As the community reels from the previous two months’ events, the McHenry County Mental Health Board is encouraging residents to use the resources at their disposal and constructively channel what executive director Scott Block called “secondary trauma.”

The public vigils and memorials throughout the area are evidence that people within McHenry County are grieving as a community, Block said.

“Obviously people feel that there’s a current sense of mission,” he said.

The stress of navigating a traumatic situation can be eased in part by reconnecting with people, rebuilding a routine, participating in community events and simply talking about the situation, Block said.

“One of the strategies that I’ve come across throughout the years as the big part of healing is talking and feeling a sense of security and realness,” he said.

For people searching for help beyond talking with family and friends, the mental health board has partnered with Northwestern Medicine’s Crisis Line to address the community’s immediate needs.

Anyone struggling with grief or mental health issues can call the crisis line at 800-892-8900 or the MCHELP mobile app, 2-1-1.

Additional resources are available through The Youth Mental Health Project at ymhproject.org or the McHenry County Mental Health Board at mchenrycountyil.gov.

The effects of secondary trauma aren’t exclusive to adults, either, Block said.

Parents and caregivers should feel comfortable having open conversations with children about potentially traumatic situations – personal or otherwise, Block said.

“The best way to talk about anything mental health-related with a child is to allow them to talk and feel,” he said. “A lot of times we try to shelter our children from these types of events or move on without really talking them through it.”

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.