During the month of May in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is holding its biggest mental health awareness campaign to date, according to educator Cara Weiner Sultan.
“What we’ve done this year is we’ve really raised the bar,” Ms. Weiner Sultan said. “We want as much information, as much awareness and as many resources to reach people in Suffolk County and even beyond and because of social media, that’s possible.”
The team of Family Health and Wellness educators at Cornell Cooperative extension have put social media to use for this campaign, which is named “Back to Basics.” Apart from using social media to share a bounty of videos, articles, and blog entries with strategies to better the mental health of parents and children, they are also using it to engage with the public in an innovative way.
On Facebook, they are hosting a self-care challenge for the month, where users can share how they practice of self-care and the most creative one will win a gift card at the end of the month.
“We’re trying to make it fun, right? Because sometimes the topic of mental health can be heavy,” Ms. Weiner Sultan said.
The team of educators with specialties in social work, public health, maternal health, nutrition, parent training, stress reduction and more, worked hard to develop the programs they’re now offering, she said.
“We do a lot of brainstorming sessions…we try to be creative,” Ms. Weiner Sultan said “[We] also try to tune in to what’s relevant, what people in Suffolk County want to see.”
One of the programs they developed informs parents how to talk to their children about the war in Ukraine and other difficult topics like managing grief and loss.
The extension’s community education blog has entries that cover issues like how to cope when feeling overwhelmed by the news, along with infant and toddler mental health. Their podcasts have episodes that touch on family emotional health during difficult times. Other episodes discuss mindfulness, how to manage stress and becoming more resilient.
They will run two live programs on Zoom every week this month to touch on different aspects of mental health. The first one, hosted on May 4 was titled, Raising Resilient Children. Others coming up are: Caring for yourself: Managing grief and loss; Stress Less: Mindfulness for Stress relief.
While the live Zoom chats and podcasts are in English, they have also compiled resources for Spanish speakers on their website as well.
All these resources are focused on prevention and education, Ms. Weiner Sultan said. They developed them in as many formats as possible so the public can consume the content in the format they prefer.
“Hopefully, it’ll be easily accessible for people … whatever way they want to learn best, or whatever they need. We’re hoping to meet their needs and just get the topic of mental health out there,” Ms. Weiner Sultan said.
Apart from the “very small … but very passionate,” team of Family Health and Wellness educators, Ms. Weiner Sultan also credits CCE board member, Erica Posniak, with being instrumental in helping with this campaign.
For access to all the resources the CCE Family Health and Wellness educators offer, visit ccesuffolk.org.