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Mental Health and Substance Abuse

As a result of our Community Needs Assessment, Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse were identified as health focus areas in our community. For more infromation on the Community Health Improvement Process, visit:

Mental HealthWhen you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health concern, sometimes it’s a lot to handle. It’s important to remember that mental health is important to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. Yet, people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently. 

Tips and Tools:

Learn more about mental health illness here:

In order to learn more about or host a suicide prevention training called Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR), a suicide prevention program, contact Tammi Boers at  715-479-3757.  QPR is designed to increase the awareness about suicide and the warning signs.

Launched in 2011, connects Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with mental health informationlocal resources, and Veterans’ own inspiring stories of recovery. Learn about the signs of mental health conditions or substance use problems and find sources of support. The site is free and accessible to everyone.

Please check out the following pages: 

Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander

Has someone you love taken their own life?  Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”.  Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one?  Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.

The SOS support group was started in July of 2005.  The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant.  The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son.  Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001.  In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs.  Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.

The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander.  The meetings are from 10am-12 noon.  The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide.  It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey.  The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline.  The SOS support group is free and open to the public.

Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area.  Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide.  In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.

We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us. 

If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002.  Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”. 

Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA)

The misuse and abuse of alcohol, over-the-counter medications, illicit drugs, and tobacco affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.

The misuse of prescription drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation’s most common drug problem after alcohol and tobacco, leading to troubling increases in opioid overdoses in the past decade. While tobacco use has declined since 2002 for the general population, this has not been the case for people with serious mental illness where tobacco use remains a major cause of morbidity and early death.  For more information, visit:

Treatment Resources:


Due to the shortage of resources in our area for these focus areas, the Vilas County Health Department is an active partner in several coalitions, which are designed to address these needs.

Northwoods Community Outreach Prevention Education  (COPE) Coalition


The mission of the MHIAC is to improve the access of services for the mental health needs of Oneida, Vilas and Forest County's people by increasing awareness, decreasing stigma, and supporting the development of a collaborative system of care through public information and community involvement.

Vilas County Youth Coalition

The Vilas County Youth Coalition's mission is to strengthen and support youth by providing intergenerational partnerships, positive opportunities, various community activities, and by encouraging respect, individuality and active healthy citizenship. This coalition also sponsors the All County Youth Conference for 6th Graders.

Northwoods Coalition North Region

The Northwoods Coalition is a statewide network, managed by the Marshfield Clinic Center For Community Outreach, representing community prevention coalitions in 40 counties and 11 Tribal Nations in Wisconsin. Recently, Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center created a new initiative, the Lakeland Area Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, aimed at addressing the issue in our region.

Prescription Drug Information:


The American Medicine Chest Challenge - provides a unified national, statewide, and local focus on medicine abuse by children and teens. One of the goals of the program is to challenge all Americans to take the 5 Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

  1. Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
  2. Secure your medicine chest.
  3. Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site.
  4. Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
  5. Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse... they are listening.

This initiative is provided without cost to any community, government, or law enforcement agency in the country. The Eagle River Police Department (715-479-1941) or the Lac Du Flambeau Police Department (715-588-7717) will take your unused prescription medication and dispose of them in a safe manner. Please call them for further information.