February is for Self-Care!

In the public health field, our first priority is to improve the health and wellness of those around us and often times, our own health can take a backseat. In the US, 19% of adults have been diagnosed with a mental disorder (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,2019). These statistics increase for our young adult population, where 1 in 6 young adults (aged 6-17) experience  a mental health disorder each year, with anxiety being the most common (US Center for Mental Health Services, 2011). These issues are not simply a phase to pass through but can lead to further mental and physical health issues later on in a person’s life if not appropriately addressed. As a NHC Chicago Health Educator with Erie Family Health Centers, I provide information health education that ranges in delivery from the typical classroom setting to a fun bulletin board displayed in our Lake View High School school clinic. Using my creative side to design attractive bulletins and interactive, yet educational, powerpoints has been such an exciting experience; cementing my passion to benefit the health of others so that they may live to their fullest potential.

Self-care can often be pushed off or procrastinated when our lives get busy and deadlines pile up. Students who come to see the clinic often disconnect their mental wellbeing from their physical health, not allowing for any outlets in their lives to relieve stress and promote peace. This month, I prioritized the bulletin board content to include tips and tricks on how to recognize certain stressors and hopefully reduce their impact on your mental wellbeing. This subject is dear to me since academia has shown me the importance of finding a stable balance between schooling and my mental health. Erie Family Health Centers also provided me with these handy bookmarks, which not only keep your place in your favorite novel but have more tips for relieving stress printed on them in English and in Spanish! These tips include adding more exercise to your routine, trying something new and accessing your support system to voice any issues or problems you have, whether to group of friends or a mental health professional.

Mental health counseling can often be stigmatized but it is a great resource for those who are seeking a well-educated and unbiased supporter in their life who can help them work through sensitive issues. Erie Family Health Centers recognizes the importance of mental health counseling and provides the first 7 sessions free of charge to confidential patients regardless of their insurance status. The ups and downs of life can take a toll on anyone’s mental wellbeing, especially during times of change. In these times, it is most important to prioritize our own stability and wellness in order to uplift the same for others in our community.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/

US Center for Mental Health Services. The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program: evaluation findings: annual report to Congress, 2011. https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/pep13-cmhi2011.pdf. Accessed February, 2020

This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2019-20 member Stephanie Senanou.

Stephanie is a Health Educator at Erie Family Health Center - Lakeview High School.