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Sun, Nov. 17

PATHWAYS TO WELLNESS: Take steps to maximize physical, mental health

"Pathways to Wellness" is this year's theme for May is Mental Health Month. It calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.

"Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life," said Laura Norman, director of communications and development of West Yavapai Guidance Clinic (WYGC). "We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but it involves a set of skills and strategies to prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It's about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy."

Norman said wellness is more than absence of disease. "It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health. "

Tina Blake, development coordinator of WYGC, who is spearheading the awareness campaign this May, said everyone is at risk of stress given the demands it brings and the challenges at work and at home. But there are steps that maintain well-being and help everyone achieve wellness. These involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, strengthening one's sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness and connections to family, friends and the community.

"Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one's potential to lead a full and productive life," Blake said. "Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society, such as greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together. It's why pathways to wellness are so important and why we need to spread the word."

Mental Health Month was started 64 years ago by national organization, Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for everyone.

West Yavapai Guidance Clinic has been meeting needs in the local community by offering mental health, crisis and addiction services since 1966. The clinic is a local resource for all concerns related to mental behavioral health, and also specializes in the service of low-income individuals and families in Western Yavapai County. Call 583-6411 for more information.

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