An artful rendering of the brain in turmoil and at peace

Taking Care: Mental Health Month at Trinity

May is Mental Health Month, but this year it’s hard to remember a time when terms like “self-care” and “well-being” weren’t already top of mind.  

Last year, before we began buying candles that smelled like our hometown (or just moved back home), Trinity was poised for reopening. We had just completed the rejuvenation of our historic nave, and our new parish center, Trinity Commons was scheduled to open to the public. The range of additional programming on the horizon at that time included a robust lineup of wellness offerings – from cooking lessons to yoga classes to lectures– which quickly pivoted to online.

"We realized our community needed a place to talk, listen, grieve, or learn as they faced new and persistent challenges, especially those concerning mental health," said Cortnie Yeoman-Vargas, Trinity’s Director of Learning & Wellness.

three types of stress graphic
Knowledge Bites workshops with Pace University have covered stress management, building resilience, coping mechanisms, resources, and more.

Our fellowship has continued. If anything, we have needed connection, community, and coping mechanisms more than ever this past year. “Over the past year, our regular communities where we found friendship and support were not available and many of us experienced isolation, grief, and poor overall well-being as we grappled with not being physically with one another, a big part of the human experience,” reflected Terrell L. Moody, Program Coordinator for Well-being. “When Trinity’s programs swiveled to being wholly online, we discovered that the shared humanity of laughing, learning, playing, and creating together could still be conveyed virtually; the connections and community-building created in the programs made that so.” 

large zoom call

These days individuals are logging in from as far as Italy and the UK to participate in our support groups, and this Mental Health Awareness month we encourage you –regardless of where you are on your journey to the new normal– to join us online. On May 18, Hannah and Charlie Lucas will take to the virtual stage to discuss their free mental health app for teens in distress, notOK, and we will continue co-hosting Covid-19 Community Conversations: Mental Health Equity and Resilience on Tuesdays with the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“We hope that these conversations will break the stigmas attached to seeking mental health care and continue to increase the resiliency of our communities,” said Yeoman-Vargas. “We focus on the importance of taking care of the self, one's wellbeing, and access to mental health resources.” Throughout May we’re also continuing to offer our Friday lunchtime series, Knowledge Bites, which has become a safe and supportive space to dive into specific mental health subjects with experts from the McShane Center for Psychological Services at Pace University.

“The topics that we included in the series were chosen thoughtfully with a hope that we could provide psycho-education and support individuals, while keeping in mind the challenges that living through a pandemic has presented us as a community," says Linda Escobar Olszewski, Psy.D., MS.Ed., M.A., Clinical Director of the McShane Center at Pace University. "We aim to remove barriers to seeking mental health support. After all, to paraphrase the former director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Brock Chisholm, 'There is no health without mental health.’”

From stress management, to depression, to trauma resilience, each Knowledge Bites session to date has provided many nuggets of wisdom. 

Here are five surprising mental health tips from our recent sessions:   

  1. Be mindful of your stress coping mechanisms. Oversleeping, over/undereating, binge-watching TV, or even staying super busy can become problematic.

  2. If you’re feeling depressed, try doing the things you typically enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it at the time.  

  3. Being a compassionate listener for a friend struggling with their mental health means you may need to express your support more than once. 

  4. Times are tough. Allow yourself the same patience and love as you are showing others.

  5. Supporting another human or living creature can increase happiness and well-being. Hello, pandemic pups!


watercolor of a human head

Watch video recordings from past Knowledge Bites sessions for more helpful insights and tips. 

"We greatly look forward to being together in person again,” said Moody, “but we recognize that continuing the online community we’ve built over the past year is vital and really speaks to Trinity’s core value of inclusiveness: providing access to as many people as possible is important to us, whether they do so by visiting us in person or visiting us virtually in their home. Anyone can benefit from being part of a community that’s seeking ways to support themselves and others in a journey to good mental and emotional health!” 

Join us this month for our final month of Knowledge Bites sessions, Racism, Mental Health and Advancing Social Justice on May 7, Mental Health Benefits of Exercise on May 14, and Mind-Body Health and Meditation on May 21. All are welcome. 


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