Celebrating Wellness Week with the Department of Mental Health – and Grace

For the past three years, the Department of Mental Health’s Northeast Suburban Area Recovery Action Team and Healthy Changes Task Force have held a day-long event at Tewksbury Hospital to kick off National Wellness Week.  Last year, I gave a talk on nutrition at the kick-off, and I was fortunate enough to be invited back to discuss life balance at this year’s event.  Wellness Champion Eileen Weber and her team organized another great event that included a welcome and opening remarks by DMH Northeast Suburban Area Director Susan Wing, Tewksbury Hospital Chief Executive Officer Debra Tosti, and DMH Deputy Commissioner for Clinical and Professional Services Kathy Sanders, MD.  Their remarks were followed by a keynote presentation on becoming safely embodied by Deirde Fay, MSW, LICSW.  Deidre’s presentation challenged participants to really think about their feelings, both physical and emotional, in order to help them feel safe in their own bodies. 

The afternoon’s sessions consisted of my talk on life balance, a very informative discussion on budgeting and financial wellness planning by my friend Janine Brady of Metro Credit Union, and an interactive presentation by Sheri Breen of Eliot Community Human Services on using yoga to energize.  Normally, I think of yoga as a relaxing practice, but Sheri shared some ways to use yoga techniques, especially those that involve deep breathing, to create energy (which is especially important in the late afternoon when, let’s face it, we all feel ourselves dragging a little).  Like last year, I left the event feeling re-energized and more knowledgeable about all eight dimensions of wellness.

Unlike last year, this year’s event included a poster session that featured nine posters on different wellness initiatives.  All of the posters provided great information, but I was most impressed by the DMH Metro North Site Health and Wellness Committee’s poster “Grace – Her journey to health and wellness.”  Grace is a consumer, and the DMH Metro North Site Office uses her story to encourage consumers and employees alike to live a healthy life.  Every few months, the site office releases another chapter of Grace’s story, along with related wellness tips including how-tos on developing the motivation to exercise, creating a holiday wellness plan, using a pedometer, eating a balanced diet, and practicing healthy habits that can add years to your life.  Grace is constantly evolving on her journey toward health and wellness, and she serves as a great role model to any employee or consumer who is looking to make small, achievable changes.  I could certainly relate to parts of Grace’s story, and I’m already looking forward to hearing about her next chapter.

Grace, the picture of wellness at the DMH Metro North Site

Grace, the picture of wellness at the DMH Metro North Site

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