Girl's Creativity Supports Behavioral Health

Abby Bredael’s Memory Rocks make Graduation Day Special for Mental Health Day Treatment Patients

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses and help reduce the stigma that surrounds the diseases like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Lisa Bredael has worked for ThedaCare Behavioral Health since 1998, currently working in the Day Treatment program in Menasha. It’s a unique comprehensive program for individuals who are having significant difficulties in life due to mental illness.

When her 12-year-old daughter, Abby, began creating memory rocks, Lisa thought they would be a perfect token for individuals who complete the six-week program. “She started making the rocks as a hobby a few months ago,” said Bredael. “Each rock has a positive affirmation to remind each individual how special they are, helping them continue their life journey.”

The affirmations include words like: love, joy, hope, be happy, be brave, be kind, etc. Each small rock is unique, painted with a variety of nail polish colors. “I started painting the rocks because I was bored one day,” said Abby. “When mom saw them, she thought they might help people, so she put them in a box and took them to work. It’s a lot of fun to make them and it feels good knowing I’m helping someone.”

Each person who completes the program receives a certificate and can select whichever rock speaks to them. “We see people at some of the most difficult periods of their life, so it’s nice to see them doing better,” continued Bredael. “The rock is a positive reminder of the program and our hope for them as they continue to work through life’s challenges. Whenever we run low, I just tell Abby we need more rocks, so she heads out to our yard, picks out some more rocks and starts creating her art. It’s so touching to see her desire to help others and I couldn’t be more proud.” 

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.