Like many people this year, Latrina Ollie has had to dig deep for what many would call “grit.”
"When I hear ‘grit,’ I just think of overcoming everything," she says. "You know, you gotta have that grit to overcome any circumstance, any situation. It's definitely a mental thing; it's really a mindset to overcome anything."
The owner of a small business, Quar Notary, in Southeast Colorado Springs says an online training she recently completed, called GRIT (Greater Resilience Information Toolkit), has helped her cope with the mental health challenges brought on and enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's really helped with my kids and my everyday conversations I have with my family members and friends," she says. “It helped me so that I could access more of those questions that I wouldn't normally ask like now I'm always asking people and myself, 'How did you sleep? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating right? Were you able to get out and go walking?' So for me, it helps me just to be more engaged with myself, my kids and my family members."
GRIT was created at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Its goal is, "to help you tap into your own personal strength and resilience — equipping you with the tools to overcome whatever challenges today (or tomorrow) throws your way," the website reads.
The free, self-paced, 5-hour online training can be watched anywhere with internet access and on any device.
"I really like that it's self-paced because a lot of people are already stretched for time," Ollie says, adding it's hard to find accessible mental health training.
"Most of the time, mental health, you're like okay you got to pay for this person and you got to sit for hours and talk to them, but this is free training. You can do it at home, breaking it up into modules," she says. "It also comes with a great workbook, and then just the support that they give you along the way, like each week I received something from the great staff."
Another important part of the training Ollie took away is how it helps you help the people around you.
According to its website, GRIT encourages using what you learn to benefit others, as Ollie has done. “COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the importance of community,” the website reads. “And make no mistake: community isn’t a buzzword or a quaint idea. It only happens because of individuals, like you, who are willing to invest in it. Whatever community looks like for you — a neighborhood running club or a close-knit group of coworkers — your grit is contagious.”
"It's not only just to help you with your own personal mental health,” Ollie says, “but kind of has like a spider web impact where it's trying to get you to impact others through what you're doing. It really wants you to take the tools you're learning to help yourself and others."
From the GRIT website, here's what you can expect to take away from the training:
- Gain a basic understanding of resilience, common stress responses in disasters, and stress-related problems
- Develop tools to help build strength and resilience among your friends and family — and throughout your community
- Learn how to support and listen to someone who is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic or another hardship
- Strengthen your coping skills, self-efficacy, and resilience while helping others around you do the same
- Know the signs for when a formal mental health counselor might be needed, and how and where to refer your friends and loved ones
- Gain access to valuable community resources and learn how to guide individuals to more resources when needed
Ollie reiterates everyone could use the extra help facing life during the pandemic.
"A lot of people are isolated, and they're not really socializing," she says. "It's more important than ever to have these types of skills so that you can know if you see a red flag about someone.
"The program teaches you to be like a coach, but also to be able to identify when there's really a problem, so that you can recommend them to an actual certified professional. We're all dealing with COVID and then just the normal life fires so doing something like this training I think is a really great idea for everyone."
Ollie believes the training is especially important to have available for residents of Southeast Colorado Springs, which is the most diverse part of the city — and historically underserved.
"A lot of time, mental health is hidden at work and no one really wants to talk about it in their homes, especially within the Southeast," she says. "Something like this training really gives everyone the resources and a toolbox to use wherever and whenever they need it."
Visit letstalkgrit.com for more information about the GRIT online training.
— This branded content advertisement was paid for by the GRIT committee.