A highlight of Mentally Healthy Norfolk Month will be the Mind, Body & Soul Fair at Stockley Gardens, which takes place this Saturday from 10am to 5pm on the lawn at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
The day is divided into a series of interactive workshops and talks designed to help visitors heal themselves — and others.
“Our thoughts can be like petulant children in need of an outlet. If we ignore them or try to push them down, they become louder and louder until they are unbearable,” said Vanessa Fleming, who is leading a yoga workshop. “Developing a Yoga and meditation practice is a strong tool of defense against the thoughts that can take over. The physical practice of yoga can help release the trapped energy.”
EVMS grad Maureen Kelleher will be leading an art therapy session.
“Art therapy provides an opportunity, through image-making, to literally create distance from challenges and instill confidence in effecting change through the process of art-making,” said Kelleher. “So for instance perhaps you have made an image of a particular situation or struggle. As a client, you collaborate with the art therapist in discussing the image from a distance, from a new perspective. From there maybe you manipulate the image to reframe your perspective, and perhaps in doing so, you gain a sense of self-efficacy that comes from trying and succeeding in something new and unfamiliar.”
Marcella Nicotra, who is leading a meditation workshop on Saturday, believes that what meditation teaches is fundamental to healthy living.
“Why should we meditate? It’s the same as asking why do we eat… it’s necessary for our survival,” said Nicotra. “Meditation has radically changed my life and how I deal with my anxiety. It has become the most important part of my morning; I need it as much, maybe sometimes more than my morning coffee. It’s that 10 to 20 minutes of clarity and peace before the day unfolds. It’s the sweet time that I set aside for me and my well-being. It’s me declaring every morning that I am worthy, I am present, and I am whole. Take time for yourself this Saturday and join us in stillness.”
Of course, there is often a strong connection between drug abuse and mental health. District Health Director in Norfolk Dr. Demetria Lindsay will be discussing the opioid crisis.
“Mental illness and substance abuse often co-exist. Individuals with mental illness are more likely to abuse drugs and/or alcohol,” she said. “According to recent studies as much as 50% of individuals with severe mental health disorders also have a substance abuse disorder. In the absence of appropriate care and support, they may attempt to self-medicate to alleviate symptoms of depression or other illness, leading to eventual addiction or worsening of their mental illness.”
Dr. Lindsay makes the important point that, like mental health, addiction is an illness, and should be treated as such.
“It is important to remember that chronic drug addiction is an illness, that involves both physical and psychological affects and requires treatment and support,” she said. “If we do not recognize this, then we tend to expect people to ‘will power’ themselves out of it. We do not ask people with chronic diseases such as Hypertension or Diabetes to defeat their illness through sheer will power. Individuals with substance disorders also need accessible and affordable care.”
Michelle Peterson from the Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation will be giving a talk that could help you save someone’s life from suicide.
“We will be talking about suicide risk and warning signs, statistics, research, protective factors, and what we can do to help stop suicide, including how to safely talk to someone about suicide,” she said.
All events are free and open to the public. For the event on Facebook, click here.
Editor’s note: The writer of this article assisted in organizing the event.
10 – 10:45
Cultivate Space: Meditation for Mental Health
taught by Marcella Nicotra
11 – 11:45
Gentle Yoga with Meditation & Breathing Workshop
taught by Vanessa Fleming, Bhav Brigade
12 – 12:45
The Opioid Crisis in Our Community
with Dr. Demetria Lindsey, Norfolk Health Department
1 – 1:45
Art Therapy for Mental Health
taught by Maureen Kelleher, ATR, LPC, EVMS
2 – 2:45
Faith & Mental Health
with Marty Phillips, Tidewater Pastoral Council
3 – 3:45
Suicide Prevention for Everyone
by Michelle Peterson, The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation
4 – 4:45
The Baby Blues: Postpartum Support
with Beth MacFarland, LPN, CCE & Courtney Michaels, LPC,
CSAC, Tidewater Physicians for Women