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Mental Health Awareness Month: Reflecting on Well-Being

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Annually observed as a time to break the stigma and have open discussions about mental health, Mental Health Awareness Month also happens to occur during one of the busiest times for those in higher education. As the academic year closes, commencement ceremonies kick off, and students cram for finals, our team (which includes staff, members of faculty, and students) can be taxed with meeting last minute deadlines and conflicting priorities. May can also prove to be a challenging time for us to prioritize well-being. 

History of Mental Health Awareness Month 

What began in 1949 as Mental Health Week, expanded in 1963 to Mental Health Awareness Month. Developed to promote mental health education and advocacy in an increasingly changing society, the month is observed nationally and often features a different theme each year. The theme this year was “Take the Moment.” As we at Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) forged through the busy month, we also reflected on the ways in which we can in fact ‘take the moment’ for ourselves, students, family, and for our sanity. 

Ecotherapy: A Moment with Nature and One Another

As part of mental health awareness month, center for healthy communities joins chico state ecotherapy on forest walk

Mid-May some of the CHC team joined up at the California State University, Chico campus to enjoy ecotherapy with Greg Shafer of the Chico State Ecotherapy program. The tour was organized by members of our CalFresh Outreach, Chico State team and featured guided invitations to engage with nature and one another, outdoors at our Chico State campus. Studies have shown ecotherapy can help reduce stress, boost mood, enhance well-being, decrease depression and anxiety, and aid ADHD symptom management, among other benefits. It’s been beneficial to our team (as mostly remote workers), to disconnect from screens, and to reconnect with one another and with nature in a different way. It was also a great way for our campus team to decompress at the end of the academic year spent connecting students with important benefits and resources to help them meet their most basic needs. 

“As someone who has worked to thrive while embracing my mental health, the ecotherapy meditation walk was just what I needed! Getting out in nature, taking time to just be, and having time to connect with people put me in such a clear head space for the rest of my day. It was a reminder that we are part of nature and we need to get back to our roots to support our mental health.”

-Kathleen Johnson, Program Administration Manager at CHC 

Final Thoughts 

While the month of May closed last week, it’s important to recognize that our mental health should be prioritized year-round. It isn’t always possible, and that is why an awareness month such as this is important. It was a time to call our attention back to this crucial aspect of our lives, and have open conversations surrounding mental health, access to services and ways in which we can support one another’s well-being.  

Further Mental Health Resources: 

*For more details about Mental Health Awareness Month, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) 
*To learn more about the Ecotherapy program, (which provides private, and public tours) visit here. 
*To connect with local resources within Butte County, please visit here. 

Mental Health Awareness Month: Reflecting on Well-Being

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