Volume 08| May 29th, 2020
Your Weekly News & Updates
Mental Health Month Special Edition
May Is Mental Health Month
Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings.
Mental health is something everyone should care about.
While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.
In 2020, the theme is "Tools 2 Thrive"- providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with. We now believe that these tools – even those that may need to be adapted for the short term because of COVID-19 and social distancing – will be more useful than ever.

How Our Staff Practices Mental Wellness and Self-care

"I like to keep up with current events, but i am easily carried away, so I monitor my exposure to the news. I also walk around the lake where I live, take lots of pictures so I can revisit favorite places anytime, and I practice meditation - all of which is very restorative and does the trick for me!"
Photo courtesy of Sherryl Hauck,
Solstice Soul Photography
Allison's photo of beautiful White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield

"I practice focusing on gratitude. Our family has been writing in a journal all the things we are thankful for while we have been social distancing at home. It helps to shift our focus on the good and keep things in perspective"

Kathy with her family at home
Sarah with her son Luca at the track

Sarah takes care of her mental health by working out - especially with her family

"Six months ago I started practicing yoga and it's really helped me to slow down and take the time to focus on my mental health. I always feel more focused and centered after I practice. If I can't get to yoga, a 20 minute walk outside can turn my whole day around."

Photo courtesy of Sherryl Hauck,
Solstice Soul Photography

"My family is taking care of their mental health in a few different ways. My husband and son are playing golf as much as they can, and I try to go out for a walk every day. My daughter is working on projects like painting the basement and redecorating".

Dawn's son Adam golfing
Here's what some of our partners have to say about how they take care of their mental health.....
Julia Merchant
Prevention Facilitator
with Region 10 Wellness Coalition

"In a time of uncertainty, it is easy to feel anxious. I find that being in the woods, hiking and exploring nature, helps me to feel grounded. I notice the sounds of the forest, of running water, the smells of life blooming all around, and the sight of hundred year old trees that have swayed in the wind through stormy and sunny days. Grounding techniques like noting sensations of the moment you are in is a powerful tool for returning the body and mind to a baseline homeostasis. This practice is a tool that anyone can do, and I’ve found that the more I do use it, the more effective it becomes and bringing me peace."
Business and Industry partners
Daisy Olivo
Career Navigator/Case Manager
RIBA ASPIRA Career Academy, Waterbury

"My name is Daisy Olivo and I am a women in Recovery from Mental Health illness for past 26 yrs. I have been a mentor to others for Mental Health and Substance Abuse and I sit still on a couple of committee for Mental Health/Substance Abuse.
I am a Recovery Coach from CCAR and I am an active member of NAMI as a facilitator of a couple of their programs.  
What I do for Mental Health is when I get up at 4 a.m., I go for my walk.
I also have both my bathrooms decorated to reflect humor and tranquility by having ZEN type of atmosphere and aroma therapy. I also am doing my deck with my happy place theme.
For the month of May I was practicing Wellness by doing a mindful activity each day for 30 days."
Tomas Olivo-Valentin
  RIBA Aspira Program Director
"My mental health now that gyms are closed is to go on hikes and long walks to refresh my mind, connect with nature and re-energize. I also have been doing projects around the house.
RIBA Aspira is a program created to address the high unemployment issue in the River Baldwin Neighborhood (South End of Waterbury) and to create a civic life, so that the residents of the neighborhood have a voice. Our center is a hub to serve the community."
The Faith-Based Community
David Peters
Pastor, Roxbury Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
"For self care, I seek out ways that I enjoy myself with different priorities, different people, different pressures, that give me different perspectives. I really try to get outside of my normal day-to-day head. In the church world, we call that sabbath, a getting away."
David is also a Conductor at Essex Steam Train
Our Government Officials
Bob Valentine
First Selectman of the Town of Goshen

"So, how can a chief elected official cope with the added work load and responsibility that comes with the current situation?"
"For me, I use my down time to do things I enjoy, such as working in my blacksmith shop or sawing lumber on a portable sawmill I own in order to make a lean-to to store wood. But that’s me, I have always made things and have the skills to do that. For those who don’t, I would suggest they do things that have no relation to their day job and allows an individual to unwind and forget, for that time, the responsibilities of be a chief elected official. Weekends are good but a week off, as this continues longer than any of us would like, would go a long way to help any of us unwind. Hopefully, most are getting into a routine for, themselves and staff, so taking some time off will be doable. For myself I hope to take next week off to finish some of my projects". 

This is Bob "Ringing the Bell" every Friday...

From the Goshen CT Selectman Facebook page:

"We will get through this.
During this troubling time of #socialdistancing , we would like to bring everyone "together" in solidarity by ringing bells EVERY FRIDAY from 8:00-8:02. If you don't have a bell, you can use your car horn, kazoos, musical instruments or anything your neighbor will be able to hear to know that we're in this together!

Shoutout to the Congregational Church for their bell!!
Matt Cassavechia
Emergency Medical Services Director Danbury Hospital, Nuvance Health
"The best I can describe maintaining my mental health and wellness is the time I spend outdoors connecting with nature. Being quiet and listening to the sounds of the great outdoors provides a calming and serene mind to ultimately unwind and appreciate everything that is good around me"
Kate Glendon
Public Health Specialist
with Chesprocott Health District

"My own self care is definitely working out. At work, our boss gets us lunch on Fridays!"  
Law Enforcement
Sergeant Nadine Amatruda
Waterbury Police Department
"Here’s what I do for my mental health and to stay mentally well, I make 'Me-Time' on a daily basis after work to unwind and decompress. 
'Me-Time' consists of anything that makes me feel relaxed, and can be anything from gardening to sitting in my backyard on the hammock to going for a bike ride. Basically, anything that allows me to feel like me outside of my uniform!"
Ryan Stottle
Digital Media & Executive Producer Executive Communications
The Hartford

"Some of the ways I maintain good mental health and wellness are by ensuring I get enough sleep at night, maintaining a proper diet and taking my dog for a walk every day. She keeps me in a good routine and reminds me to step away from my computer every once in a while when working remotely."

Photo courtesy of Sherryl Hauck, Solstice Soul Photography
Jacqueline Elam
Chief Operating Officer
Housing Authority of the City of Danbury
Jackie was trained by Comcast to use their video equipment and helped the Stand Together Make a Difference Coalition create a video to raise awareness around the Opioid Crisis.
What works for her is to "Have a good mix of news stories. While getting current updates, make sure that you also get a healthy dose of the “feel-good” stories as well."
Parents and Families
Melanie and Darrin McGuire
Members of Ridgefield Prevention Council
"As parents it’s so important to maintain our own mental health and well being in order to best meet our kids needs, particularly during our current situation of quarantine life!
For Darrin, running is key. He knows when he reaches his tipping point, he needs a run to regroup and afterwards he is refreshed.
For me my mental health relies on continued perspective and always looking for the good in something. I find recognizing the natural beauty around me through taking pictures has been a way to stay positive and focus on the good, and photos are a great way to remind myself at times of stress where the beauty lies."
Natalie Rosado
Director of Operations, The Hispanic Coalition, Waterbury
"The Hispanic Coalition is a small non-profit agency that focuses on helping those within our community. We provide an array of services such as case management, senior services, translations, referrals, document completion and advocacy. We also have an Adult Day Center -La Casa Bienvenida for seniors 60 & older. 
I absolutely love helping those in need; either guiding them in the right path or providing them the necessary tools to help them along the way.  

...My family is what keeps me going...my daughters..ages 16 & 17 months old...give me the strength I need to keep pushing and stay sane."
Our Schools
Maryanne Pieratti
Social Worker, Joel Barlow High School, Redding

"I spend time in my garden"
Treatment and Recovery Community
Tim Walsh
Outdoor Educator, Recovery Coach
and Founder of Adventure Recovery, Bantam, CT
Tim says he GOES OUTSIDE to take care of his mental wellness.

Here is a quote from a recent Adventure Recovery Facebook post:
"Time in nature has a profoundly healing impact, opening gateways from the outer experience to the inner world." @adventurerecovery
Evan Reynolds
Region 10 Wellness Coalition
"To care for my own mental health, I make sure to include activities that I enjoy and are good for me throughout the day. For example, I work out every day, keeping me healthy and confident. I also take breaks in between assignments or any work to relax, listen to music, or check in with friends and family. These keep my mental health in check. My school also has many aspects conducive to good mental health. Students’ guidance counselors are constantly reaching out and checking in to see how we are doing. If we lack someone to speak to at home, there is always someone from the school who is ready to help."
Youth Serving Organizations
Torrington and Winchester Youth Service Bureau Staff
"When not supporting the youth in the community, staff take care of their mental health in various ways. We've have created home gyms to exercise and practiced meditation. We also put together puzzles and models, sought to learn new languages and have learned to cook many new recipes.
Staff members have reconnected with friends and family they have lost contact with over the years due to busy schedules.
It's become very evident that a healthy diet, physical exercise and maintaining a daily routine help us with good sleep hygiene and an overall positive outlook on life."
Jason O'Connor
Youth Advocate
New Milford Youth Agency

"This is a t-shirt I have had for a few years now and it reminds me to stay present and pay attention to the here-and-now. Whether you are a tortoise or a hare, do what makes you happy in life!"
Mental Health Awareness Month Resources
Practicing Mindfulness
Square Breathing

These are unprecedented times that may cause fear and anxiety in some. Routine can bring about a sense of certainty and predictability and quell feelings of uncertainty. Adding structure and routine to your day can help: (Bruce Perry Psychiatrist)

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day
  • Schedule family meals
  • Be intentional when watching the news and/or social media
  • Exercise daily
  • Schedule safe social interactions

Free Resource

Centr is offering 6 weeks of free workouts, nutrition help and mindfulness for adults and kids . www.centr.com
31 Days of Sharing Wellness with Others
Identifying signs and symptoms of mental or behavioral health challenges is an important part of the process of taking care of your overall health. Mental health screenings are a quick way to determine if you or someone you care about may need to reach out to a doctor or mental health professional for an evaluation. They are educational, not diagnostic.

Mental Health America Fact Sheets
 If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can reach out the
CrisisText Line by texting CT
 to 741-741 or
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.