Let's Talk, Marathon County

WIPPS Reveals Insights from Youth Mental Health Dialogues

The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) has released a report from a series of dialogues on youth mental health. The dialogues, conducted in Marathon County in November 2023, were part of Let’s Talk, Marathon County, a WIPPS initiative aimed at fostering constructive conversations among residents on a variety of public issues.

A majority of Marathon County residents who participated in the series supported a variety of measures to improve youth mental health in the community. These include expanding the pool of mental health professionals, building emotional regulation into existing health curricula at school, and supporting the well-being of families.

Participants were selected from a pool of 94 panelists, reflecting the political and urban/rural demographics of Marathon County. Additionally, the series contained a dialogue session with 39 students from the WIPPS High School Leadership Program.

Let’s Talk, Marathon County was one of 32 grantees for the Healing Starts Here initiative, a nationwide effort to address and understand divisive forces in communities and promote healing.

“In spite of the growing polarization in the country, we firmly believe that the vast majority of people want to be able to engage in respectful, productive conversations with those of different political ideologies,” said Julie Bunczak, WIPPS program manager. “The results of this first set of dialogues confirm that belief.”

WIPPS Research Partners has produced a complete report summarizing the findings from the dialogues. Notable points from the report include:

  • Seventy-seven percent (77%) of the community members reported being “somewhat more” or “much more” comfortable interacting with members of their community who hold different viewpoints from theirs than before the dialogue.
  • A large majority (85%) of community members reported that participating in the dialogue made them “somewhat more” or “much more” confident that their community can engage in civil conversations about the issue they discussed.
  • Eighty-six percent (86%) of community members responded that they valued the input provided by the other participants “quite a bit” or “a great deal.”

The complete report may be viewed at https://wipps.org/lets-talk/.

About WIPPS Research Partners

WIPPS Research Partners is a Universities of Wisconsin organization that provides analysis, research, and problem-solving expertise. Learn more at wipps.org/research-partners/.