NEW Healthy Living Series in July

A pile of fruit including lemons, limes, tangerines, apples, kiwis, and a bananas.

by Chloe M.

Did you know there is a link between your mood and what you eat? Can you effectively mitigate challenging situations for yourself and those around you? Have you learned about the new mental health crisis number 988?

If you are an adult who answered no to any or all of these questions, you need to join us for the new Howard County Health Department Healthy Living Series. The series consists of three upcoming classes offered at the library (HCLS Miller, Savage, and Central branches) with the goal of fostering resilient communities. Taught by a variety of healthcare professionals, the free classes are supplemented with peer lived experience. We engage on topics including nutrition, self-care, and effective coping, which are recommended for even the healthiest of adults – not just to have solid information yourself but in case you need to assist friends and family members.

The 2021 Howard County Health Assessment Report data was published last fall. The data demonstrated an increased need to share mental health information and resources with adults in Howard County. Thirty-five percent of residents reported feeling depressed or lonely during the two-week period prior to being surveyed. Additionally, 50 percent of residents reported experiencing feelings of nervousness or anxiety in the 2-week period of being surveyed.

These trends were particularly concerning among young adults (18-24 years old). Respondents were asked, “Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by ‘feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?’” Six percent of all residents responded, “nearly every day. However, when broken down by age, nearly one quarter (23 percent) of residents ages 18-24 said they felt down, depressed, or hopeless “nearly every day.” Residents were also asked, “Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by ‘feeling anxious, nervous, or on edge?’” Ten percent of all residents responded “nearly every day.” A quarter (25 percent) of residents ages 18-24 years old said they felt anxious, nervous, or on edge “nearly every day.”

The HCHD Healthy Living Series looks to combat the stigma associated with mental health that continues to prevent adults from seeking help. The three-class series takes place on Tuesday evenings, as follows:

1. When the Going Gets Tough: Managing Stress with Peer Stories

Tuesday, July 19; 7 – 8 pm at HCLS Miller Branch

Become a community care access point! Join us in developing the skillset to mitigate challenging situations for yourself and those around you. This presentation will include real stories from National Alliance on Mental Illness volunteers and stress screening resources.

Registration required.

2. Our Community Care Roadmap: Navigating the Landscape of Mental Health Resources in Howard County

Tuesday, July 26; 7 – 8 pm at HCLS Savage Branch

Follow the roadmap to care with instructional stops along the way at brain health education, early intervention, and intensive intervention. The class introduces new health resources, including 988 and GBRICS.

Registration required.

3. Building Your Toolbox: Nutrition, Exercise, and Self-care for Better Brain Health

Tuesday, August 2; 7 – 8 pm at HCLS Central Branch

Explore the science behind nutrition and mental health to understand the link between your mood and what you eat. Learn how exercise and self-care activities can improve brain health.

Registration required.

If you have any questions, email HCLS Information and Research Specialist Nancy Targett at Together we can create a model community care system in which all Howard County residents know how to prevent and respond to health challenges. We hope to see you there!

Chloe McGeehan is a recent River Hill High School graduate. Through the DukeEngage Gateway summer program, she is working to facilitate collaborations that generate behavioral health resources for residents of all socioeconomic backgrounds. She enjoys trail running, spending time with family and friends, painting, and making music.

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