May 10, 2022 Diana Lagarez, B.S., CPhT

Mental Health Awareness Month: How Shields Empowers Mental Health Everyday

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s so important to recognize your mental health – physical, emotional, and overall well-being. It’s crucial at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood, and taking care of your mental health should always be a priority.

Throughout the pandemic, mental health has been at the forefront of many of our lives. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress have put a strain on so many of us. At Shields Health Solutions, we know it can be so difficult to go through treatment for a disease or illness while staying positive and taking care of yourself. Shields prides itself on being a culture of kindness that truly cares about the work we do for our patients and the support and care for our team members.

The Mental Health and Wellness Employee Resource Group was started to support mental health within the Shields organization helping our team members feel empowered and open to speaking about their mental health. The name EMPOWER stands for Encouraging More Positivity, Occupational Wellbeing & Employee Resources and truly captures what the group does for its team members and one another.

EMPOWER co-chairs and advisory board members created goals with diversity and inclusivity ensuring everyone is encouraged, supported, and empowered without feeling targeted or unsafe.

The group allows for educational opportunities and resources for those who need them. Some topics include benefits and resources, mindfulness, and meditation, stretching and yoga, self-care, and many more. These topics are discussed during monthly meetings where all members are encouraged to share their opinions and experiences in a safe environment to improve mental health, encourage physical wellness in our lives and jobs, and provide a safe space for support.

“Having a group of people who are there for each other through the ups and downs of life has meant a lot to me to watch this group grow in love and support of one another, “said one member of EMPOWER. “It’s so nice to have such a strong group of supporters, and it’s empowering to see so much love and acceptance. This group meets you where you are at, and the people are real and raw. The topics discussed are helpful and so many wonderful tools shared.”

Here are some ways EMPOWER members prioritize their mental health:

“Think of something simple that made you happy, made you smile, or you simply enjoyed as a kid.  It could be coloring with crayons, reading a picture book, jumping rope, laying in the grass looking at the sky, or looking for bugs. It could be eating a popsicle or buying a pack of trading cards.  And then just do it.  Do it and remember what it felt like, even if you must pretend for a few moments. We all have the power to be happy, less stressed, and more in control of our thoughts, even if just for a few moments.”

“The daily 5: Take 5 min (or less) to be thankful for the struggles, the wins, and the frustrations as these are all lessons to carry with us that turn to knowledge. Second, be kind time-be kind to yourself most importantly say something encouraging and or positive about yourself, even what you are thankful for on any given day. This can also be used to say something kind about a coworker or family member. Embrace struggles, self-love and care, and positivity daily.”

Assessing each other’s mental health – and our own – is important so that everyone can receive the best care possible. Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to reflect on ways to help yourself, and those we love find ways to live their best possible life.