It didn’t happen overnight.

At first, Lynette Rodi felt tired. She slept more, scaled back her typical workouts and time with friends. It felt like her kids and husband were more often wrong than right. And Rodi’s agitation shadowed the house Sunday nights in the buildup to another work week.

As a licensed clinical counselor, Rodi recognized the signs.

“I was depressed,” she said.

She spoke to roughly 100 people Wednesday at the Baxter Hotel in Bozeman as she led a Greater Gallatin United Way workshop on living with stress. The audience included government officials, hair stylists, attorneys, nonprofit staff, construction crews and accountants.

Rodi said she eventually learned another title for her experience: compassion fatigue, often called burnout. She described it as chronic stress because of work demands.

“The reality is we’re in the middle of a public health crisis in our country right now. We’ve seen a huge spike in what are called deaths of despair, which include suicide and drug overdose,” Rodi said.

She said no matter the job type, people suffer. It’s important to build ways to respond to that, she said.

The workshop is part of United Way’s ongoing Resilience Project. The effort began in 2016 when the Gallatin-area branch offered the behavioral health education to nonprofit staff who often supported people living through trauma.

Danica Jamison, president and CEO of Greater Gallatin United Way, said it was time to reach people across job types.

“It’s about how to build skills, resilience, to the stress that’s usually so overlooked and how that looks in everyday life at work or at home,” Jamison said. “We know it’s not only nonprofit staff who need that.”

A new $94,000 award by AMB West Philanthropies is helping the nonprofit do that.

The nonprofit received the first chunk of that money in July, which is part of AMB West’s effort to build on what organizations in the area do for wellness.

Montana has led the nation in high suicide rates for decades.

In 2016, there was a suicide in the U.S. every 11 minutes, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That’s a rate of roughly 14 per 100,000 people.

The same year, Montana’s rate was roughly 26 per 100,000.

Jamison said United Way hopes to use the award to offer more training like the workshop, especially to people who can shift a workplace culture.

There’s an interest, she said. United Way staff hoped at least 50 people would sign up for Wednesday’s workshop. The event collected 96 participants and a waitlist.

Jamison said the challenge will be how to offer the training. She called Wednesday’s meeting a trial run to get feedback from participants.

Audrey Cromwell, an attorney with Cromwell Law, said she hopes to eventually bring the training to her office.

It was Cromwell’s second year at the conference.

Her work has often meant meeting people in their most difficult time. It became hard to leave behind her client’s stories and the feelings attached to each when she left work.

“I was relieved that what I felt was named and that they went into how to cope so you don’t reach burnout, I love that as a problem solver,” Cromwell said.

In the last year, she’s put more buffers between herself and her work. She also meets with people in similar jobs regularly to talk through some of their ongoing challenges.

“It’s realizing my job is for a specific purpose and that I feel validated in the work I do instead of, for lack of a better word, try to save the world,” Cromwell said.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

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