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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Walk in Nature to Support Mental Health

It is May and it has been so beautiful in the Hudson Valley! No doubt everyone is getting out to their favorite trails to take in the sounds and sights of this wonderful spring weather and the optimism for better times that seems to be in the air.

Research published in Nature in 2019 suggests an individual's health and well-being is promoted by spending 120 minutes per week in nature. This can be accomplished by engaging in recreational walking for the total time throughout a given week. 

May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Each year the event is celebrated with ribbons, special events, and campaigns by various organizations to increase awareness about resources to find help and to decrease stigma.

What better time than to commit to walking in nature for 120 minutes each week to benefit your mental health? 

NAMI-Mid-Hudson, the local nonprofit and affiliate group of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, serves Dutchess and Ulster Counties. Signature programs, such as Family2Family and Ending the Silence, are meant to deliver help and hope to family members  and young people, respectively, who are in need of support and understanding with education about mental illness and recovery models. (Check out the website for specific information about programming, which has been delivered nonstop and online without interruption of services during the last year of the pandemic!)

Listen to this recent podcast from "This is Beacon" 

as they interview HeatherAnn Pitcher of NAMI Mid-Hudson

This year NAMI-Mid-Hudson (NAMI-MH) is encouraging everyone to get out and walk in nature for 120 minutes during the week of Saturday, May 15th to Saturday, May 22nd. This is the virtual alternative for the traditional NAMI-Walks activity that usually takes place annually as a group event. With some pandemic restrictions still in place for large group gatherings when social distancing is not possible, this alternative was chosen by NAMI-MH to strike a balance between getting the word out about the availability of mental health services, to encourage individual initiative for improving one's own mental health, to raise awareness about NAMI-MH programs, and to encourage donations to the organization.

Food for thought: NAMI-Walks usually rely on pledges to sponsor a walker for its fundraising. By participating in NAMI-MH Walks, you can support mental health in 2 ways --- for yourself by walking during the week for a total of 120 minutes, which can be divided into 4 days of 15 minutes and 3 days of 20 minutes -- and by exploring the website for NAMI-Mid-Hudson to increase your awareness about programs and by raising some funds or donating some funds.  (Be creative -- ask a dozen friends to sponsor $1 per minute of walking for 10 minutes each or $10 per person.) Since most people know someone personally or have family members who have experienced mental illness, you will be lending support to a grass-roots, volunteer-run, self-help, local non-profit that has made a significant impact on research, advocacy and education over the last three decades. So pick your favorite spots to walk, get out in nature--rain or shine--and do it for yourself and for NAMI-Mid-Hudson.

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