Mental Health & Wellness Fair to highlight 'normalizing' needs

Each year, the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) organization at Clark State College completes a student lead project, and this year – in partnership with Counseling Services, TRIO and Project Jericho – the project will shine a spotlight on mental health and wellness.

Clark State PTK will host a Mental Health & Wellness Fair – which is part of the project titled Love Letters to Ourselves – on Tuesday, Oct. 3. This is the first fair at the college with a focus on mental health and wellness. The event is free and open to the public.

“Our PTK chapter has always been committed to improving the student experience,” says Nina Wiley, PTK advisor and assistant vice president of student affairs at Clark State. “They recognize it is important to prioritize self-care, but finding time as a college student to connect to resources is difficult. The students were determined to implement a meaningful program on campus.”

Wiley says the student-developed goals for the Mental Health & Wellness Fair include raising awareness and educating the community about healthy and positive mental health practices, reducing stigmas related to mental health, normalizing self-care and humanizing the experience.
“I am proud to work with our Phi Theta Kappa students to host the first Mental Health & Wellness Fair on campus,” she says. “We are focused on improving the overall health of our community.”

Wiley says with the help of several organizations and businesses, Clark State can broaden access to healthcare and wellness by providing educational materials, lifestyle information and screenings, and hands-on learning demonstrations and activities on campus, all at one single event.

Annalise Smith, vice president of service for the Clark State PTK chapter and the western district representative for Ohio Regional PTK says the goal of the event is to create a beneficial and educational experience for the community to come together and increase wellness and self-care efforts.

“(We) wanted to step outside of the box and encouraged agencies participating to create an interactive and hands-on experience for participants,” she says. “We also have a few other booths and small events planned, including an interactive presentation related to the college project. We hope to see some intense community engagement.”

Smith says picking the college project theme was daunting, but she has always been passionate about mental health awareness.

“Through the years, I’ve struggled with mental health along with many others I know,” says Smith. “Working on this project comes from a place I’m very familiar with. It’s been difficult at times as it’s a sensitive subject, but I feel it’s important to take this opportunity to create awareness. I love others, and I feel that I have a duty as a human being to share the love throughout this community.”
More than 20 businesses and organizations will provide educational materials, lifestyle information and screenings, and hands-on learning demonstrations and activities related to health and wellness at the event including Mercy Health REACH (Recovery, Education and Prevention, Advocacy, Caring and Hope).

Mercy Health REACH is an outpatient alcohol, drug and tobacco program, providing care for adults and adolescents.

“Educating our community about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and tobacco and strengthening self-confidence, gaining employment, and independence is essential,” says Marcy Ivory, a licensed chemical dependency counselor at REACH. “We speak in support of all who struggle with the disease of addiction and mental health issues. We strive to help all our clients realize the hope within them.”

Ivory says the REACH professional team provides caring, nonjudgmental treatment and work to help clients recover and rebuild their lives. 

“REACH is committed to providing treatment and education as well as raising awareness and reducing stigma regarding substance use,” she says. “REACH believes in the importance of educating our community about addiction, self-care and healthy coping strategies.  It is important to address the health risks of substance use and provide information on how an individual can make changes to enhance and rebuild their lives.”

Rebecca Smiddy, owner of Sunflower Yoga Studio says she is participating in the Mental Health & Wellness Fair because she is, “committed to raising awareness, reducing stigma regarding mental health, and normalizing self-care."

“I love the term ‘normalizing self-care,'” she says. “We live in a crazy, mixed-up world with much day-to-day stress to deal with. Yoga helps one work with stress and mental health issues.”

Smiddy says she began doing yoga in 2017 because she was coping with anxiety. 

“I felt like my body was going haywire,” she says. “I discovered that yoga was not as hard as I had thought it would be. The combination of subtle movement with breath helped so much to calm my body and mind. I want to share that revelation with others.  We at Sunflower Yoga want to make yoga accessible to anyone who wants to try regardless of age, body type, or physical ability. We want to ‘normalize’ yoga as an accessible exercise to the members of our community.”

Sunflower Yoga Studio - located in the heart of Downtown Springfield - offers a wide variety of classes in a safe, pleasant environment including Hatha, Yin, Restorative and Vinyasa flows, and Pilates classes for beginners to intermediate level participants.

“In addition, we hold ongoing special yoga sessions on and offsite as well as Wellness Workshops that focus on specific topics of interest,” says Smiddy. “We offer off-site classes for companies, schools and other organization wellness programs.”

The Clark State PTK Mental Health & Wellness Fair will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the Clark State Eagle’s Nest, Karen Rafinski Student Center on the main campus at 570 E. Leffel Lane in Springfield.

Activities and demonstrations at the event will include:
• Fitness challenges
• Yoga demonstrations
• Henna tattoos
• Love letters to ourselves
• Financial literacy
• Therapy dogs
• Self-empowerment and mindfulness activities   
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Read more articles by Darci Jordan.

Lifelong Clark County resident Darci Jordan is a freelance writer and former staff writer/columnist for the Springfield News-Sun. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science degree in Agriculture Communications. She currently also serves as a writer for the Clark State Community College marketing department. She enjoys time with her family, horses and Ohio State football. Go Bucks!