OZAUKEE COUNTY - The city of Port Washington and village of Saukville have been chosen to take part in a mental health and wellness initiative.

The selection was made by both the Washington and Ozaukee County public health initiatives. With Washington County having a few financial issues, there is a possibility Washington County may merge with Ozaukee County down the line.

Currently, the counties are working toward more shared services and therefore shared costs, according to Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada.

The two-year process starts in January 2018. Initial conversations between the two communities led to an agreement to have a joint meeting Aug. 22.

The two communities were selected as part of a pilot program which will involve a community assessment and engagement with residents. There are a number of phases that will be undertaken including kindness, empathy, support and resilience.

Mlada said this is an opportunity for the city to “focus again, jointly with the village of Saukville, on how we deal with mental health issues.”

The overall goal is for both communities to try to advance mental health-related areas of focus.

“We have some flexibility in terms of our areas of focus and what action items we want to embrace,” Mlada said.

There will be little to no financial investment at the start, Mlada said. However, there could be some fiscal impact going forward depending on which items are chosen to focus on.

“(We need to) embrace and engage on this really important conversation,” Mlada said.

The initiative is part of the INVEST program, a “community-wide initiative working to sustain and improve the health of Ozaukee County residents through obesity reduction, improved mental health, the prevention of youth alcohol and tobacco use, and the elimination of illegal drug and heroin use,” according to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department website.

The INVEST coalition was formed in January 2011 to “mobilize residents, organizations, and stakeholders to come together to address the factors affecting the health of Ozaukee County residents.”

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