MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS – WENDY BLANCHARD, M.S., CHHC

As of July 1, 2018, NYS is the first and only state to implement Mental Health Education in grades K-12.  This is a huge step forward in bringing awareness to mental health, how to recognize signs and symptoms of feeling unwell in our mental health, and how to practice wellness. The Mental Health Association of NYS states, “This is an unprecedented day in the history of public awareness about
mental health and public education in New York State. This landmark
legislation that led New York State to be the first in the nation to create
a mandate for mental health** education** in schools is operational as of
today.” (July 1, 2018)

MHANYS further states that “Unrecognized, untreated and late-treated mental illness elevates the risk of mental health crises such as suicide and self-injury. Early treatment
enhances potential for recovery and also diminishes negative coping
behaviors such as substance abuse,” Liebman added. (Glenn Liebman, CEO, MHANYS) “Empowering young people with knowledge will have a powerful impact in helping them protect and
preserve mental health and wellness for themselves and their peers.”

“Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness.
Additionally, about half of all chronic mental health conditions begin by
age 14, half of all cases of anxiety disorders begin as early as age 8, and
about 22 percent of youth aged 13-18 experience serious mental disorders in
a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.”

I am so grateful to have been honored in being asked to be a part of a separate workgroup with the Mental Health Association of NYS in creating a training called “Mental Health & Wellness 101” which we are presently piloting, and will be available shortly, where we will offer in person trainings, as well as Mental Health & Wellness 101 as an online training.

This training is offered to educators, support staff/key personnel as staff development “to develop strategies to promote wellness, educate students, provide staff development opportunities and identify community-based supports and resources.” The training is also available to students “which combines lecture and experiential learning activities. Topics include understanding mental health along a continuum from wellness to illness; self-care and other wellness strategies; recovery and treatment seeking behavior; and anti-stigma messaging,” and will also be available as a collaborative to the community to seek “to build community partnerships that work to reduce stigma, support families, educate communities and support access to care.”

“Participants will leave with an understanding of a holistic definition of mental health that exists along the continuum, understand the prevalence of impact, recognize signs and symptoms as well as risk and protective factors including trauma, understanding treatment and support options and the process of recovery, and creating a healthy environment that supports and promotes the wellness mindset.” These are the learning objectives.

Being an integral part in creating this training continues to offer me a deeper appreciation and understanding of Mental Health. And, the fact that I am in recovery for almost 6 years, and working in the field as an Educator in Youth Mental Health First Aid, Adult Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Safety for Teens, and Mental Health and Wellness 101,  which has given me a great opportunity to give back to the community, and to offer my lived experience, as well as my work experience in the field with clients and families, and the community at large, on a larger and very important scale.  I am also trained and Certified in many other areas, and hold a certification in Holistic Health Counseling.

It has been a very humbling experience for me to work with such seasoned  and passionate professionals, all of whom I hold in the highest regard in the field.

I was recently a speaker/panelist for the Mental Health Association New York State “Healthy Minds, Healthy Schools, Healthy New York,” event on Oct. 17, 2018. What an incredible experience and privilege! I am feeling so grateful for this amazing opportunity to offer my training, my lived, and work experience to the community I love so much in Rockland County and on a state level.

Here is the explanation of this event as it was written on MHANYS website:

MHANYS Annual Conference
“The conference is a great one day one stop center for the most recent updates and a host of the most topical issues in mental health in New York State. We consistently line up many of the top New York State officials involved in these issues areas as well as many of the other top content experts. We always provide an important discussion that can help shape the changes for years to come. Our conference prepares you with resources and tools necessary to succeed in the future.”

I am so deeply grateful, and so deeply blessed to do the work that I do every day. I have been afforded so many opportunities from the position that I hold in the mental health/substance use disorder field, and Holistic Health field to be trained, to tell my own story of my holistic recovery, to be a speaker, an author, and to be a Holistic Health Counselor, Recovery/Peer Specialist, Advocate, Ambassador, and Community Educator.

THIS is the true meaning of recovery for me…Practicing my own tools every day to remain in a state of ease and wellness, asking for help when I notice any signs of feeling unwell, continuing to remain cognizant of this disease and practicing self care, offering my truth and experience, empathy, and compassion to those in our community who are struggling with Mental Illness or Substance Use Disorder to offer them suggestions as they find their own pathway to recovery, and guiding them as they ask for assistance, and now taking it to the state level where my voice was heard by a larger audience that RECOVERY IS A BLESSING, and is completely available to everyone through a variety of options. My dream, since I began my recovery to be a public speaker to raise awareness, and to talk about recovery, and to get excited that recovery IS possible, is coming to fruition, and with the Universe guiding me every step of the way, I am on my way. It is my greatest joy and desire to help others struggling with a disease that nearly took my life over and over again, but, I made it to the other side…for a purpose, and with a purpose. The entire process has been so healing.

This work is of the utmost importance to me as I continue to work diligently every single day to remain in “Wellness.”

Practice SELF CARE…Recover…Stay Connected…Learn, Grow, Evolve…Share it all…PAY IT FORWARD…PRACTICE GRATITUDE…Be mindful of your daily needs and do whatever it takes to help yourself to heal and to recover.

This is how we begin to heal…one community member at a time as we extend our heart and hand to help someone else.

Love and blessings,

Wendy

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