New Mental Health advocacy organization launched


By Meladi Brewer

DARKE COUNTY — Suicide, abuse, and human trafficking are all uncomfortable topics rising to the top of mental health awareness.

With September being Suicide Awareness Month, a group of women have come forward with their support group. Their mission being to “battle and walk alongside of you to empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to not only help prevent Body, Mind, Spirit, & Soul destruction; but to begin healing your wounds, and transforming your self-image, so that you see yourself as a Warrior with a purpose and knowing that you are Loved, Valued, Strong, Valiant, Fearless, and Enough!”

Working to make a taboo topic more understood and accepted, the Women Warriors Ministry, LLC is made up of a group of women who have passion at the forefront of their mind. Despite their name “Women” Warrior, this group is geared towards everyone dealing with mental health struggles.

“A friend of mine said ‘whoa, suicide. That’s a big word’, and I was like well it got your attention,” Founder & CEO Shannon Denniston said. “You know, we are not just a suicide support group. We are a mental health support group, and we are open to men, women, and children because nobody is immune.”

Denniston is a Suicide Survivor, and the idea for the group had been in the back of her mind for quite some time, but it wasn’t until after her suicide attempt that Women Warriors came into fruition, as she wished to be the change that so many people need.

“I realized I’m not alone, and there are so many people out there who are hurting. It became a mission to find somebody else that felt the same way I felt,” Denniston said.

She said after talking to friends, she had several people come forward to say they felt or thought the same things she had and encouraged her to share her story. Denniston said it opened her eyes to the need for better help for those who are suffering “because she wished she had it, and something needed to change.”

“It is evident people are hurting so, so, so, so bad, and they don’t know where to turn, how to get help, they are afraid to ask or even talk about it, and we were like ‘you know what? Let’s do this,” Denniston said.

With suicide being a major public health concern and the leading cause of death in the United States, this leap of faith was needed. Business Manager Jaime LeVeck said it was born from “the urge, the need, and the passion that Denniston wished she had.”

“Denniston said that she wished she would’ve had a resource like that. Would it have changed anything or would it have not, you do not know because it is the past, but at least that option to go with like-minded people would have been there,” LeVeck said.

Denniston said that leading up to her suicide attempt, she had been told by her therapy counselor she needed to practice self care and work on her mental health before she ended up being admitted.

“It was like ‘I will get to it. I just can’t right now’, and then bam! It hit me like a ton of bricks, and my darkest day had to be turned into something better,” Denniston said.

The group is available and open to everyone at any time, but they will be hosting Suicide Support Groups starting in October. It will be held on the first and third Mondays of each month from 6:30 until 8 p.m. It is open to Warriors of all ages and gender at the Radiant Lighthouse Campus, 5256 Sebring-Warner Road, Greenville.

It is for those “who are feeling lost, un-heard, hopeless, abandoned, useless, burdensome, confused, or perhaps contemplating giving up on life as an answer to pain.” It is also open to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. The Women Warriors “have all been on a battlefield at some point in their journey and would like to support members of the community in conquering their battles.”

The sessions will start as Peer to Peer sessions, and they hope to expand from there with learning topics, guest speakers, and other services. Having been founded in August of this year, the group says there is more to come as they grow and expand as a community.

“Mental health and suicide effects everybody, and we need to be a voice and a hand for those ones who can’t do it on their own.”

Denniston has lived in Darke County for 27 years, and the only behavioral health place that she knew of was the Recovery & Wellness and Behavior Health, despite there being other places around and people who want to help. In addition to the group focusing on education, awareness, and prevention, they are also wanting to “hold the hand of someone who is struggling.”

“We want to be a resource, help them find resources because there are a lot of people like me that don’t know where they can go and who they can call locally,” Denniston said.

She said a lot of the times when she was having bad days, her counselor wasn’t available.

“Man, there should have been somebody else,” Denniston said. “There should have been somebody else that I could have called.”

Denniston said she leads by example, not just for her kids but other’s children, because a lot of times they do not have the support at home. Sessions of Real Talk From Mama D were coined as a way to help adults and youth have a “parental role” that they didn’t receive growing up to help healing starting at the front lines.

“Mama D is -she’s me, but she’s the mama that you wish you had or you inspire to be. The one that sits and is like ‘really, that’s how you want to play that,’ and that’s how I’ve always been with my children,” Denniston said.

She said Mama D is the person who answers all the really hard questions, and she wants to be able to answer them. She said she wanted to be able to answer the hard questions “openly and truthfully because no one else is doing it.”

“The speaking engagements are Real Talk with Mama D because you’re trying to get the truth: lovingly, gracefully, and passionately,” LeVeck said.

“There is a reason. There is a reason why God helped me then, and there is a reason why God stopped me on June 26, 2020, and if that means sacrificing my secrets and my story to help somebody else, that’s all I want to do.”

To learn more about Women Warriors visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok at Women Warriors, or you can contact them by email: [email protected] or call 937-670-0311. For immediate assistance call 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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