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Everyone Has Mental Health



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In a recent conversation with Newtown’s Health District Director Donna Culbert reflecting on May — which is Mental Health Awareness Month — she recalled reading an astute observation: “...everyone has mental health.” Culbert defines mental health as our state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

How well we as individuals, as a community, a state, and a nation, are at maintaining or improving our mental health is something we should all reflect on this month because it affects how we think, feel and act. Our mental health also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Taking care of our mental health should be an interconnected element of doing the same for our physical health. Sometimes it is unclear why we would separate the two at all. It is unfortunate that so often when people say “mental health” they go straight to mental health illness, or problems, or diseases.

From self-help books, podcasts, programs, and workshops to support groups and clinicians, there are many ways individuals and communities can promote and pursue mental health maintenance and improvement. When one’s mental health, or that of a loved one falters, Newtowners are blessed to reside in a community with robust resources and supports.

Our schools, our Newtown Human Services agency, our Newtown Center for Support and Wellness, Newtown Youth & Family Services, and many other local and regional organizations stand ready to assist those affected, including their families and loved ones, as they navigate mental health challenges and conditions.

If a mental health emergency presents in Newtown, call 911. Our emergency communications staff, police officers, and volunteer ambulance corps volunteers are all well trained and ready 24/7 to respond with sensitivity and professionalism.

For those looking for answers or assistance, our Human Services point professionals Director Natalie Jackson and case worker Jacqueline M. Watson should be the first call you make (203-270-4330).

Jackson recently told The Newtown Bee she and Watson can help ease the stress and burden by helping anyone seeking assistance make the transition to appropriate care smoother. They will be there to supervise the process to ensure our residents in need receive the best and most appropriate referrals and directives.

Their expertise, along with their colleagues at the town’s Center for Support and Wellness — which initially was established as an agency responding to the traumatic results of 12/14 — is now available to everyone from the youngest to the oldest among our population.

Newtown Youth & Family Services is another local nonprofit providing outpatient individual, couples and family counseling; substance abuse treatment services; autism and social skills programs; prevention initiatives and support groups.

Serving Newtown and the surrounding communities, the Western Connecticut Coalition (WCTC) is a Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization that delivers services through the Strategic Prevention Framework, a data-driven, evidence-based prevention model developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Find resources through its website: wctcoalition.org.

We also cannot say enough about our network of private practitioners that counts among its members, Jennifer Doran, PhD, the current president of The Connecticut Psychological Association.

As Culbert reminds us all, maintaining positive mental health allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

During Mental Health Awareness Month, and every month, Newtown is fortunate to have numerous qualified professionals and response networks to address related emergencies, as well as resources for anyone with a desire to better maintain or improve their mental health.

It is up to you to utilize them if and when they are needed.

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