May is Mental Health Month

Dear Centegra Team Members,

Nationally, May is recognized as Mental Health Month.  This should serve as a reminder to every one of us to ensure we are taking active steps in our daily lives to maintain our mental health, as well as our physical health.  Good mental health can be fostered in many ways, such as: making sure you get enough sleep, exercising regularly, engaging in fulfilling social activities outside of your work, directing time towards hobbies you enjoy and seeking outside help when needed.

While we need to focus on actively maintaining our own mental health, we should also encourage and support each other in doing the same.  Recently while attending a Mental Health professionals’ conference, I heard a story of a man who in his 30s had decided his life was no longer worth living.  Literally, as he set out intent on carrying out his plan to commit suicide, he ran into an old friend who asked how he was.  They sat down, had coffee together, talked, and he sought help after their visit.  This random meeting and conversation saved his life.  This story is a powerful reminder for all of us of the value of checking in with each other and asking “are you ok?”

In Australia, they launched a campaign referred to as the “R U OK” campaign.  The focus here is, of course, to remind people that it is important and powerful to ask and that you may never really know how powerful or important that question could be some days.  Here at Centegra, we have some practices in place that remind us to ask the question and check in with one another.  Our defusing and debriefing gatherings are designed as a context for us to ask and ensure that we are ok.  While our work is rewarding and engaging, there are times when it is also profoundly sad or frightening.  Those moments demand our attention and need to be acknowledged even if they are an expected part of what we do every day.

So I encourage you to take stock in your current mental health coping strategies and build it up if needed.   I also encourage you to ask the question, “are you ok?”, when it comes to mind.  You may never know how valuable that acknowledgment may be to someone else.

Be well,

Sheila Senn, Psy.D.
Vice President, Site Administrator Woodstock Campuses
Centegra Health System