There is power as well as comfort in hearing other peoples story, particularly when it comes to personal experiences with mental illness
. Every year The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester invites speakers, some very well known, to share their personal story or connection to mental illness with community members who attend our annual benefit dinner event. We have heard from actors, singers, authors, athletes and astronauts all who willingly shared their struggle with depression, anxiety, addictions or more serious debilitating conditions. It is estimated that 26.2% of the US population ages 18 and older
suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder year, and mental illness is the leading cause of disability. Mental illness
affects one in five people today, so there is a very large population of people who are seeking advice, resources or encouragement from those who are living with a mental illness or knows someone who is. Our strategy in asking others to share their story, is to raise awareness of the commonality that mental illness plays in our lives; it can affect a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even yourself. Personal stories inspire others to take action, seek help and will strengthen ones understanding of how mental illness plays affects all of us.
For the most part, people who are affected by mental illness look and act just like any other human being on the planet, and most people can often recover from their illness, or can
maintain its ill effects via medication services and or therapy. People need to understand that mental illness is a condition that requires treatment, and with the right support and help, most can live a normal, productive life. But the fact is; even though help is available, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment.
Our annual dinner event
, which highlights personal stories of others, coincides with the celebration of October’s Mental Health Awareness Week. In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in
recognition of efforts to raise mental illness awareness
. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have organized community events to enhance public education about mental illness. This October also marks the 50th anniversary of The Community Mental Health Act, signed into law by President Kennedy. Today, community mental health centers, such as MHCGM, help people to manage their mental illness by providing those who seek treatment, with the tools and resources needed to improve quality of life. Hope and recovery is
possible and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling alone and isolated with their illness. We need to let others know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness -- it is a sign of strength. To learn more about the signs of mental illness
or the 2013 Annual Celebration for Mental Health
dinner and awards benefit, go to: www.mhcgm.org
. Proceeds from annual fundraising events will help to provide essential mental health services for needy families in the community.
Did you know that an estimated 26.2 percent of
Americans ages 18 and older – about one in four adults – suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year? Metal health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United
States today. Most people realize that mental wellness is essential to one’s overall health and well-being, yet sometimes life events can affect us. The Do More for the 1 in 4 Campaign is a call to action, to help those who are living with a mental illness - experience an improved quality of life.
While having a mental illness may be common, people need to understand that many mental health conditions are treatable and individuals can recover and go on to lead productive lives. The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare recently stated, “Two-thirds of those who experience a mental illness go without treatment, mostly because of inability to access care and also due to stigma.” It is shame that so many people in this country live with a mental health condition and never seek help due to lack of information, stigma or lack of insurance coverage. It is time to change that and bring mental health conversations and awareness out of the dark.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester is calling on individuals and the business community to help the 1 in 4 adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. Early identification and treatment is important and can transform lives. Fund raising activities held by individuals and businesses would go a long way in providing services to neighbors, friends and family members who are in need of care.
Some fundraising ideas to consider could include; organize or participate in a local walk or run and ask friends, neighbors and colleagues to support your efforts; initiate a casual Friday campaign throughout the month of May at your place of work in which participants submit a donation for the cause; bring a fund-raising idea to your local running club, bike club or book club; engage in a social media campaign to bring awareness to the issue and the need for community mental health services; sign up for Lite up The Nite for Mental Health 5k this June
, in which proceeds help to provide charitable mental health services; or consider other unique initiatives that could help to raise funds for those who are in need of mental healthcare within the greater Manchester community.
Please show your support for mental wellness - as everyone deserves a running start in
life! If you know of anyone who is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness please have them contact their local community mental health organization.To make a donation to the Do More for the 1 in 4 Campaign, click here
. Proceeds from fundraisers conducted in support of the Do More for The 1 in 4 can be sent to : MHCGM, Attn. Development Office, 401 Cypress Street, Manchester, NH 03103
As I sit here trying to get motivated on this cold and wintery March Monday, I take some small comfort in knowing that we are that much closer to spring. I am hopeful that warmer temperatures are coming soon, which means more opportunities for getting outdoors to walk or run. Honestly, I am just not too keen on bundling up to exercise outdoors, and I do not have a gym membership, so I need to find ways to burn a few calories and prepare for spring. As I look forward to those long walks or runs outside in the fresh air, there are things I can do now while I am waiting for the temperatures to rise. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with the less than ideal fit across my waistband area, it is time to put those winter excuses behind and get moving. After all, a concerted effort to increase my activity level and tone those muscles should also result in higher energy and greater productivity!
The Plan: Stay fit by incorporating more activity into my day, while also maintaining a healthy diet, in hopes that the additional efforts will burn some calories, tone muscles and increase my energy level.
Actions: First off, since I work full-time, I will look for opportunities throughout the day to walk further and take the stairs more often than I typically do. I can start by parking my car further away from the door, by making multiple trips to other areas of the
building and by taking the stairs multiple times a day. If I have time to take a lunch break, (which I don’t always do), I will drive over to mall and walk for a good half hour or more before heading back to the office. After work, I will do my best to motivate myself to get on that elliptical that is in my basement for at least 25 minutes a day, perhaps three times a week. (I am realistic in knowing that there are many other activities or engagements that could interfere with my goal so I try not to overestimate my intentions.) Also, I will try to add in a few arm weights here and there
while I am winding down for the night, to maintain whatever muscle mass I do have. If I follow thru with all these small efforts, I should be able to hit the ground running once the weather cooperates – which for me is a comfortable 50 degrees or higher.
Since March and April are months that have the sound of spring but can still bring winter snowstorms and cold temperatures, I will have to be vigilant in my efforts to stay fit indoors
for perhaps eight weeks or more. Then again, didn’t that prognosticating groundhog predict an early spring? I could be outdoors walking and running in no time. I guess it is time to hit the stairs!
For many years now, I have been involved with organizing and promoting benefit events to support the mission of a private not-for-profit organization who serves those who are challenged by mental illness. I have learned that for some, recovery comes quickly with the proper support and therapy, while for others, recovery or a sense of normalcy, could take years. Some of what I have learned about mental illness has come thru the words of those who are willing to share their personal story and their struggles with mental health issues.
Recently, I was honored to bring in former professional basketball player Christopher Herren, as a keynote speaker for our event. Chris grew up in Fall River, MA and was a local basketball legend. His innate talent for the sport was amazing to watch and something that his community had never seen before. He quickly rose from a high school standout to a highly recruited Division One player, and then went on to play professionally in the NBA. Chris shared his amazing life story with us and described, how his experimentation with drugs, hugely affected the decisions and the path he traveled for the next ten years of his life and permanently altered his life today. He described how the words, “It’s not going to kill you” tempted his decision process in college, and how the influence of others he associated with, perpetually rooted him into a destructive, downward spiraling fate, in which he felt was no escape. It took more than one bad experience, more than one close call and more than one brush with death before Chris realized that his addiction was ruling his life and he no longer wanted that life.
While Chris was sharing his story, one could hear a pin drop in the room because his story was that awe-inspiring. One could not believe that someone could experience all that he experienced, and that he not only survived, but has turned his life around today and is on a much different path. Chris now makes it his role in life to share his story, in hopes of helping others.
We can learn so much by listening to what others have to say, hear what others have been thru in life and understand what life is like for someone who is affected by mental illness, disease, disability, physical impairments or addiction. People bear different challenges in life, but one cannot truly understand what life is like for others who are dealing with unfortunate circumstances, until we take the time to listen and learn. To look at Chris today, one would see a very handsome and physically fit young man with a killer smile. But if you didn’t know his story, you would not truly understand what has made him the person he is today. I am so thankful to have learned from him and others who have shared their story with us in the past. We all may look similar on the outside, but the journey of what has been happening to each of us on the inside, is what formulates our life and our true path.
Take the time to learn from others as you will find it to be riveting, awe-inspiring, educational and helpful to you personally, in your association with others, dealing with your friends and family and may even help you in formulating your path in life which can sometimes be a long and windy road.
For most people the holiday season is a time of joy and togetherness. For individuals experiencing depression, it is a difficult period because of the contrast between how they feel and the way the rest of their world is acting.
According To the National Institute of Mental Health, at any given time nearly 10% of the American population suffers with depression, a potentially serious medical illness. Although the severity of the depression can vary, it always has an impact on quality of life. It affects the way you feel,
the way you think, and the way you act and interact. Depression does not discriminate; it affects men and women, young and old and people of all races, cultures and incomes.
What is even more alarming is the estimate that only about one third of those affected ever seek treatment for the condition. For the rest, either the symptoms go unrecognized as a sign of illness or fears about the reactions of co-workers, friends or family, cause them to suffer in silence. As a result, they endure unnecessary discomfort and often experience problems at
their jobs or in their relationships. “Depression is a treatable medical problem”, says Quentin Turnbull, MD, Medical Director at The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, “if only those affected would feel comfortable asking for treatment when they feel they need it.” Of those who seek treatment, most show significant improvement and nearly everyone derives some
benefit from medical care.
Several factors play a role in the onset of depression. Some factors are physiological and others are situational. It is some combination of these factors that triggers a reaction. It should be understood that depression can occur even under ideal living conditions.
Depression goes well beyond normal feelings of sadness. There are a variety of symptoms but the most common are deep, persistent, long-lasting feelings of sadness, even despair. People may feel constantly tired, listless, helpless and overwhelmed by life. Lack of self-care,
restlessness, changes in sleep or eating patterns, irritability as well as emotional and physical withdrawal, are also responses that may be present. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors can occur in some people. For many the symptoms are mild and easier to ignore but they still create discomfort, impacting quality of life and need to be addressed.
If you notice that you, or someone you care about, has become unable to enjoy the spirit of the holidays, it might suggest that they are experiencing depression. One of the most difficult parts of being treated for depression is taking that first step of asking for help. During the holidays consider trying to help someone you are concerned about to reach out and take that first step to improve the quality of their life. What a wonderful holiday gift.
For more information about depression and treatment options, please feel free to call The Mental Health Center at (603)668-4111 or their affiliated group practice, Bedford Counseling Associates at (603)623-1916 or visit our website at www.mhcgm.org
As the holidays quickly approach, many people start to feel
anxious or overwhelmed by the season, and for good reason. There are places to go, people to see, things to do, and so on - as the expectations can sometimes feel endless. Do you tend to feel “stressed-out” this time of year? We hear the term used frequently, but what does it mean? The Merriman-Webster dictionary defines the term “stressed-out” as; “suffering from high levels of physical or especially psychological stress.” Typically stressors come from aggravated levels of obligations, pressures or
Here are some simple tips for easing that stressed-out feeling:
1.Be realistic of what this time of year brings and try to mentally prepare yourself in advance. Think of ways you could lessen the anxiety raising situations, and have a plan in place to avert or compromise
2. Find time for yourself. Call a friend or someone that you enjoy spending time with and meet for coffee, or a “stress date” to unwind.
3. Fit in exercise. No matter where your holidays take you, try to fit in a daily walk if other forms
of exercise are unavailable to you. Walking is a great form of exercise, and a
perfect outlet for gathering your thoughts and enjoying time to yourself.
4. Maintain a routine. Try to plan several constructive activities for each day and take pleasure in your accomplishments.
5. Make Lists. Whether your commitments involve baking, shopping, traveling or doing; a list will help
you to prioritize. Sometimes you just have to let go of a few things or delegate them away.
6. Rest. Get adequate sleep each night, which will help to rejuvenate and recharge your energy.
7. Each day brings new possibilities - stay positive and try to enjoy each one!
Why is it that some people are successful at
running a marathon, while others find it difficult to incorporate exercise into their lives? Could it be that some people are more organized than others? For those who seem to accomplish a lot in one day or at least more than others, could it be due to their personality type or have they learned to implement methods which help them to reach their goals? It could be a little of both, but for me it’s all about the “to-do list.” In fact I must confess that I often hear myself repeating this phrase to
my husband over the course of a weekend, “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you
can do today!” It sounds simple to me….
It is so easy to make excuses for not getting to the things we say we need to do, whether it be exercise or other tasks around the house or office. In fact, writing this article or blog has been on my to do list for some time, but I kept prioritizing other items above it. How do we reach the point of taking action and getting the job done? For me, it requires making a list and sometimes multiple lists. To stay organized, I keep a running list of the things I need to do or would like to do. I include exercise on my list as well as all the other tasks I would like to accomplish throughout the day, week or month. Some items are more timely than others and often times I will then create a daily to do list from my master list. The visual is extremely helpful as I go about my day as I often refer back to my “list” many times, to make sure that I stay on track.
The best part about list-making is the satisfaction one gets from crossing items off the list once they are accomplished. I love nothing more than to see my list fully crossed off at the end of a day. It makes me feel like I was successful in making good use of my time as well as knowing that I accomplished what I set out to do. There are so many distractions today that can keep us away from our goals. For instance, every day I see people spending inordinate amounts of time chatting with co-workers, checking twitter, reading social media content, watching television, etc. All adding up to less productivity at the end of the day. By utilizing a task list, one can visualize the wants, needs and goals that are written on the paper, making it easier to stay on task.
For those tech-savvy folks who have become more attached to their smartphone or ipad, a quick google search for listmaking apps will offer you a plethora of options to choose from; Wippee, Scribbles, WishPot, Wists, Boxedup, Listmaker, QuickList among others. Once you get into the habit of using lists, you may also enjoy making lists for other things like, wish lists, grocery lists, travel checklists, reading lists, gift lists, or a list of lists. So in essence, whether you prefer to utilize paper or an app, starting with a to-do list could be your first step to becoming more organized. Not only will it serve as a helpful reminder, but list-making can provide one with a sense of order or structure and can even help to relieve stress. Hmmm, seems like I am ready to cross off another item on my to-do list today!
Throughout the year, I have been working on this fundraiser as my Americorps VITSA project for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, and gaining a substantial amount of knowledge about professionally putting together a fundraiser, mental wellness, and, most importantly, the overall goodness of people and their desire to do good for others.
For the 2011 race, the New England weather decided to dump all its leftover rain onto Manchester, New Hampshire to create perfect running conditions…for ducks. For months, we all crossed our fingers for sun for the 2012 race. What we got were temperatures that soared into the 90s.
With some quick thinking, we put in a second water stop, a sprinkler system, and a hose at the end of the chute that participants could spray themselves off with. Personally, I wasn’t expecting too many people to come out in that kind of heat. Boy, was I wrong.
Not only did people come to register race day, but they showed up with smiles on their faces and a positive attitude, ready to take on whatever was thrown their way. They were happy to wear their neon and support something they saw as an important cause – to provide charitable care for the clients of MHCGM, to reduce stigma around mental illness, and to highlight the importance of all aspects of wellness.
We had a banner by the registration tables that read, “I run for mental health because…” and allowed people to write in their own answers. Here are a few responses that were given:
“For my friend”
“My family suffers from mental illness and addiction, and we appreciate your support.”
“It affects everyone.”
“I want to remember my brother.”
“I want to stop stigma.”
“I have bipolar and it doesn’t run my life, I run it.”
I found this as powerful proof of the belief in our cause.
Though running around on the course for most of the actual race, I was pleasantly astounded at how many people genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite the heat and despite the challenging course.
One story from the race, in particular, stuck with me. The volunteer placed near the last brutal uphill climb spotted a participant who seemed to be near the end of his rope. Our volunteer did his best to cheer him on, assuring him that the finish was not far. The runner, looking fatigued and more than ready to be done looked up, and with little reluctance in his voice, said, “Don’t let this grimace of death or all this sweat fool you. I’m actually a runner from Kenya,” and, with that, chuckled and chugged his way to the finish.
I don’t know what his reasons were for signing up for our race, or if he knew what he was in for, but the fact that he persevered with a positive attitude and a good sense of humor, makes me truly believe in people’s desire to do good.
Simply put, people are awesome. People want to do good. People will show up on a 90 degree day to a 5k with a course that is renowned as being one of the toughest in the country to run or walk and time after time prove their compassion.
Thank you everyone who participated through running, walking, volunteering, cheering, and donating. You are an inspiration
, and have truly made my year in New Hampshire a memorable one.
For more pictures of the event, visit the results page
or our facebook page
(Remember to consult a physician before starting a new exercise
I have been slacking in my blogging duties as of late! Things are really picking up as the race is only one month away. But, let’s try to get
back on schedule with an uplifting post about teamwork.
Though running can be a highly meditative and personal time, it can also be a time where two or more people bond through the shared activity. Like in life, runners often need a support system as they train and compete – people who love the sport as much as they do, or people who commiserate with achy muscles and bad running days. Running partners are some of the best resources and friends runners may have.
When on a run, it seems that people talk about everything and anything besides running, and when they’re done with it, running is all they talk about. I like to call it running therapy.
Besides the fact that running with someone is a wonderful way to decompress from the day, running with someone is also a great way to check your pace. If you are going at a comfortable speed, one in which you can carry on a conversation with someone, it’s probably a good pace. However, if you are able to sing while on that run, you may want to consider bumping up the speed a little. Likewise, if you can barely get to the letter C while saying the alphabet without sucking wind, you may want to slow down. The exceptions are, of course, if you’re trying to push yourself for hard workout, or if you are taking a “rest” day.
During Lite Up the Nite, you have an opportunity to sign up as a team. Almost HALF of those registered for the race are participating on a team. There are 2 categories in which you can compete for a team prize: fundraising & most spirited. If you're a real go-getter, you can even sign up for both! There is NO EXTRA FEE to register as a team. Don't run alone! Grab a buddy and come run with us at Derryfield Park!
Good luck, and see you June 21 at Lite Up the Nite!
Look for the next blog post soon.
Have a story you want to share about how mental health or exercise has effected your life? Consider sharing it on this blog! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
with your story.
(Remember to consult a physician before starting a new exercise routine.)
This week, I’m going to take a break from discussing running tips and focus on one of the main drives behind Lite Up the Nite for Mental Health. Though one of the top priorities of our race is to fundraise for The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester’s
charitable care fund, another important goal of this run is to help fight the stigma often associated with mental illness and treatment of it.
In 1999, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health included this statement:
Stigma assumes many forms, both subtle and overt. It appears as prejudice and
discrimination, fear, distrust, and stereotyping. It prompts many people to avoid working,
socializing, and living with people who have a mental disorder. Stigma impedes people from
seeking help for fear the confidentiality of their diagnosis or treatment will be breached. For our
Nation to reduce the burden of mental illness, to improve access to care, and to achieve urgently
needed knowledge about the brain, mind and behavior, stigma must no longer be tolerated
Matters of health should not be the defining quality of an individual—just like you wouldn’t view a person who has cancer as ONLY a cancer patient, someone with a mental illness should not be classified as their diagnosis. Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety are real conditions that people deal with every day-- but these people are also mothers, athletes, business professionals, and husbands that have so much more in their life than just a disease or disorder.
The unofficial slogan for Lite Up the Nite is, “Because mental wellness shouldn’t be something we only discuss in the dark.” We are asking you, as a runner or walker, to wear bright or neon colors to signify shining light on mental health; that it is an important aspect of our overall well-being, and nothing to be ashamed of. We want to reinforce that mental illness is no more shameful, and just as worthy of attention, as something like heart disease or cancer. The more we can discuss mental health, the more we can bring to light the truth about it.
Knowledge is more than half the battle when fighting stigma. Mental illness affects one in four families in the United States. It is in no way rare in this country. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
has some wonderful resources to better educate people on the prevalence and definitions of mental illness, along with ways to eliminate the stigmas often associated with it. Examples are all over their website: “Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable.
Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.” Fight stigma with knowledge.
So, let’s lite up the night for mental health!
I am not ashamed to say that I care for my mental health. Are you proud to say that you care for yours?
Good luck, and see you June 21 at Lite Up the Nite!
Look for the next blog post April 20 when I discuss team running.
Have a story you want to share about how mental health or exercise has affected your life? Consider sharing it on this blog! Email email@example.com
with your story!