Being a mental health hero can cause positive change throughout a region, and the Missouri Behavioral Health Counseling Associates (MBHCA) recognized that by selected Mayor Luge Hardman, Mayor of Waynesville, as September’s Mental Health Hero.

MBHCA has been selecting prominent individuals in the area who have proven to have a positive impact on the mental health of the surrounding community. MCHCA associate and Project Heroes coordinator Tabitha Hundt said Mayor Hardman was selected because of her leadership skills and the relationships she strives to maintain in the community.

“Luge is an excellent leader and makes a point to interact with the citizens of the community,” Hundt said in an email. “She was nominated for her support of the U.S. military as well as her compassion for others.” By being a supporter of the military installation, Mayor Hardman helps the mental health of the entire region.

“She understands the importance of mental health and has brought several key issues to the public’s attention,” Hundt said.

Tabitha Hundt said that Mayor Hardman uses her sense of humor to help residents become more comfortable with her, allowing her to develop relationships within the community. She said that one of Mayor Hardman’s current community projects is supporting the construction of the Little Heroes playground alongside Fort Leonard.  The anticipated equipment is accessible to handicapped children and their parents and features elements for autistic children to be comfortable as well.

Hundt said that Mayor Hardman’s support of the military, in addition to the Little Heroes playground, comes through vocally raising awareness about the seriousness of post-traumatic stress disorders. Hundt explained that Mayor Hardman also understands the drug issue that Pulaksi and Phelps counties face and appreciates the efforts of those who fight back against the problem.

As one of MBHCA’s Mental Health Heroes, Mayor Luge Hardman is an individual making a positive difference in the area, helping the mental health of the community grow in a positive fashion that ripples and creates change throughout the region. MBCHA has been recognizing these heroes since February of 2017.

“We felt it was important to be able to recognize people who have shown excellence in their field and dedication to their profession.” Previous Mental Health Heroes include Detective Carl Kossuth of the Rolla Police Department, Karena Fleischman, a counselor for Rolla Middle School, and many other individuals from Phelps and Pulaski Counties.

“They’re people who have given back to the community,” Hundt said previously. “Leadership is something we want to see, as well as strength and commitment to their field.”