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Self-care is a Priority, not a luxury. – Director Lori Criss

As many of us listened to the new mandates handed down by Governor DeWine, we heard him outline plans to keep us safe while the virus continues to rage into the holiday season.  The safeguards have remained the same for many months,  limit the size of gatherings, mask up in public, socially distance by at least 6 feet and wash hands often.  What many may have missed, but is as vitally important as our physical well-being, is how to keep our minds safe and healthy as well.


Lori Criss is the Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the state of Ohio.  She opened her briefing with a powerful reminder that we must take our mental well-being seriously.  We may have jobs, children, or other essential responsibilities as caregivers and believe there is no time right now to take time for ourselves.  This could not be further from the truth as our own mental stability depends on the vital self-service of “me-centric” downtime.  Part of normal is routine.  In a time of prolonged stress it is important to recharge ourselves so we have the capacity to care for others.


According to 2020 US Census figures,  about 34% 0f the US population is affected by mental illness.  In a family of three that means two are impacted by the condition of the third member with the mental health concern.  In short, we are ALL impacted by mental health.  The best way to stay on track physically is routine.  Keep consistent bedtime and waking-time schedules, eat a balanced diet of healthy foods and drink enough water for proper bodily hydration.   Get up and move around often because exercise and water move toxins out of the body naturally and laugh daily because it elevates your mood and boosts your immune system.


According to Director Criss, the best way to maintain our mental health is also to stay on routine.  Keep all scheduled mental health appointments and if medication is part of the treatment regimen, continue to take all medication as prescribed.  It is important to maintain the chemical balance in the brain so we can remain focused on recovery.   Support group meetings are a vital tool to maintain connection with people who live the shared experience of a mental health challenge, addiction or trauma.  Also important to connection is communication from and toward our support circles.  Reach out to family and friends who may be at risk of relapse.  Ask if they are okay and remind them that you are there to support and encourage their continued recovery process.  It is okay to not be okay right now, but we are truly all in this together.


If you are in crisis or have mental health and addiction concerns call Ohio’s Mental Health Helpline at 800 720 9616 or text 4HELP to #741741.     Reach out to local Helpline at #211 or visit  For coping strategies to help better manage pain medications and usage visit


Contributed by: Lorie A. Altvater-Peer and Connection Recovery Lead-NAMI Delaware & Morrow Counties-

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