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Make the most of May’s MHM

The Millerton News Editorial

If there is one thing most people around the world should be able to agree on, it’s that ever since we have all been placed in near isolation and had to deal with living under pandemic conditions until now, more than two years later, when life is pretty much back normal, we have all dealt with a tremendous amount of stress.

We’re not out of the woods yet. We still have to contend with the reality that a new variant of the deadly coronavirus could strike at any moment — anywhere in the world — triggering a new wave of infections that could kill us all. It sounds bleak, and it is, hence the stress and anxiety.

So is it any wonder that in addition to the added support we’ve needed in our health care system to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthen our immune systems and fight off those dastardly virus particles, we also need to reinforce our mental wellness?

Of course it makes sense. Because there comes a point in time when we should all recognize that having a proper support system can help us process any emotional and/or mental hardships we encounter, and ease what could otherwise become physical burdens.

In honor of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, we thought this might be a particularly good time to therefore recognize some of the support services and resources available in the region aimed to make life more sustainable for those who have been struggling since COVID entered our lives, or perhaps before it did so. Look at them as tools to make the work of daily life easier to accomplish. Knowing such resources are within reach is as simple as grabbing a hammer from your tool belt when you need to hang a shelf.

For starters, there’s a group called Mental Health America of Dutchess County (MHADC). MHA’s national arm is responsible for creating Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, which was an important step toward shining a light on the fact that people struggle with issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and sadly, suicide.

MHA offers materials, classes, therapists, films, wellness campaigns and all sorts of programs to help people struggling with their mental health.

In the Hudson Valley, MHADC offers workshops and educational programs, veterans services, support groups and social activities and individualized support programs, housing and shelter services, a 24/7 crisis center and an addiction and recovery center. For full details, read this week’s front page article.

There are other groups that do similar work, like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which likes to say, “There is no health without mental health.” A truism if there ever was one.

NAMI Mid-Hudson also offers a number of free presentations and educational classes in the region for those seeking support, like the Family and Friends Seminar, a two-hour talk for those with a loved one living with a mental health condition. During the session the facilitator focuses on diagnosis, treatment, recovery, communication strategies, crisis preparation and NAMI and community resources. The next NAMI Zoom seminar is set for Monday, June 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

NAMI will also hold a presentation entitled, In Our Own Voice, with an inspiring message about two people’s encouraging journey toward finding positive mental health. The presentation will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, May 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

An eight-week educational Family-to-Family class for family members or friends who have a loved one living with a mental health condition begins on Monday, June 13, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. via Zoom. Call 845-206-9892 or email contact@namimidhudson.org to register.

An eight-week Peer-to-Peer class for adults living with a mental health condition begins on Thursday, June 30, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Zoom. Call 845-206-9892 or email contact@namimidhudson.org to register.

For details on any of the sessions, call 845-206-9892, email contact@namimidhudson.org or go to www.namimidhudson.org.

Meanwhile, the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health (DBCH) will host the YOUR (Young, Old, Urban, Rural) Health Dutchess County Health Fair on Saturday, June 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the lower level of the former JCPenney store at the Poughkeepsie Galleria, 2001 South Road in Poughkeepsie.

DBCH staff will be there to provide information about mental health counseling along with a myriad of other health-related issues. If you are in the area, stop by and see if you can get any useful information to improve your mental wellness.

Bottom line, we’ve all had to deal with some level of added anxiety, stress or mental anguish during the pandemic, if not just during life in general. If you feel like you’re struggling, please know that you are not alone. Also know that it’s OK to ask for help.

Taking care of our health — both physical and mental — takes work. Doing so should be a priority for each and every one of us to ensure we live a long and fruitful, happy and peaceful life. Don’t neglect your mental wellness — it’s too important — and you, we, all deserve to be well adjusted and whole.

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