LIBERTY CENTER — Breaking the stigma and teaching positive behaviors to deal with mental health issues was the focus of Tuesday’s Henry County Let’s Talk presentation at Liberty Center Local Schools.
Organized by Henry County Health Partners, Remedy Live, a non-profit organization based in Fort Wayne, has been leading presentations for both youth at the four Henry County schools and adults in evening sessions.
Sharon Meece, coordinator of the Henry County Health Partners and director of community health services at the Henry County Health Department, shared last year’s community health assessment highlighted that both youth and adults are struggling with mental health issues.
Rachel Berry and Graham Brown of Remedy Live led the presentation, which uses technology such as interactive polling through smartphones to answer questions anonymously, providing data and insight into what issues both youth and adults are facing.
“It gives everyone an opportunity to be really transparent,” Berry said, adding there are often common themes among both youth and adults.”
The theme of the presentations are escape.
“Everything we do, at least with the program we do with their students, revolves around this word right here and it’s escape,” Brown said. “You see here in 2023, we don’t like pain. I don’t think anyone’s ever liked pain, right? We define pain is just something that disrupts our internal peace. So that could be emotional, it could be physical, but when we’re dealing with that pain, it’s so easy to reach for pleasure.”
That could include spending hours scrolling through social media, playing video games, watching movies or television or overeating.
“While those things might not seem bad at first … we find ourselves in this cycle and we find ourselves overconsuming.”
Brown explained those methods of escape connect to the brain the same way vaping, drinking alcohol or doing drugs do, and the dopamine increasing in the brain can make you crave those behaviors.
“The reality is life is hard, life gets tough,” he said. “You’re going to deal with pain at some point in your life, if you’re not now, you will. So how you react to that pain, how you deal with that pain, is so incredibly important.”
Brown and Berry shared tips to help with coping in a more healthy way — boredom, sleep, radical honesty, gratitude and exercise.
Brown added boredom allows the brain a chance to take a break and could include doing breathing exercises.
“It’s not staring at a wall for 30 minutes,” he said. “It’s putting practices in place so that we can allow our brains to think.”
Berry said it is important to not only get eight hours of sleep a night, but to have a routine that includes going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time each day.
“Try to be intentional about going to bed every single time … at the same time each night,” she added. “I think many of us can testify that after a good night’s sleep, you do feel so much better that next day.”
Radical honesty, shared Brown, is being honest not only with others but also with yourself.
“Radical honesty is so important that starts with being honest with ourselves,” he said.
While noting it can feel difficult to feel gratitude due to the current events in the world today, Berry said it’s important to be thankful.
“Because I think when we see these things in the media, or we see these things on social media … our mind shifts that way and we forget everything in our life that we need to be thankful for,” Berry said.
Berry added exercise helps improve oxygen flowing to the brain, which is also beneficial.
“Life is hard, the struggle is real, but so is hope,” Brown said, adding they always close the presentations asking the same question — “What’s one step towards hope you’re gonna take today?”
This was the third community presentation in the county. The last one is Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at Napoleon High School. The meetings are open to the public, and registration is requested by visiting www.henrycohd.org/letstalk.
Remedy Live also operates a free crisis texting line that’s available to anyone by texting 494949.