Living well key to fulfilling one’s potential, experts say

LIHU‘E — Friendship House, Kukui Grove Center and other agencies dealing with mental health hosted a Mental Health Awareness event Saturday.

May is Mental Health Month, an observance which started in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all, states the Mental Health America website.

Agencies involved in mental health and wellness converged at the mall in Lihu‘e, culminating the month-long celebration. Many took advantage of the central gathering of agencies to learn more about what each offers.

Earlier in the month, community agencies hosted a sign-waving campaign on children’s mental health along Rice Street fronting the Historic County Building.

Kaua‘i County Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i was among those, having connections with the YWCA, one of the participating agencies.

“We have to transport people,” said Kaleo Carvalho of the county’s Transportation Department, representing The Kaua‘i Bus. “We provide a service.”

Mental Health Month is laid out in two themes: “Do More for 1 in 4” and “Live Well! It’s Essential for Your Potential,” states the MHA website.

Do More for 1 in 4 is a call to action to help the 1 in 4 American adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition and the fact they can go on to live full and productive lives.

The second theme concentrates on the importance of mental wellness and the steps people can take to improve their well-being and resiliency in the face of difficult times and challenges.

MHA offers 10 science-based tools for people to manage stress, relax, grow and flourish.

These tools include connecting with others, whether friends, co-workers or family; staying positive because people who were pessimistic had an almost 20 percent higher risk of dying over a 30-year period than those who were optimistic; being physically active, minimizing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, colon cancer, diabetes and more; helping others, because research indicates those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and overall better health; getting enough sleep, leading to greater success at tasks; creating joy and satisfaction, because good feelings can boost one’s ability to bounce back from stress, solve problems, think flexibly and even fight disease; eating well; taking care of one’s spirit, spirituality meaning connecting to whatever one considers meaningful and holy; dealing better with hard times through strong coping strategies by writing it out and getting support; and getting professional help if needed.

Some of the professional resources on Kaua‘i were available during the event,  highlighted through entertainment provided by volunteers.

Visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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