A focus on mental health is not new to the YMCA

Since its inception more than 150 years ago, YMCAs have considered mental health to be one of the three pillars of wellbeing. It can be seen in early communications in the late 1800s that directed our work. The spirit, mind, and body logo from generations ago gave equal prominence to the interconnection of mental health and physical health.

Mental health is how we think, feel and act. At the Y, we recognize that we all have mental health, and mental health is an important part of our physical health and social-emotional well-being, as well as a core component of our identity.

Taking Action: New Director

of Wellbeing and Plans for

Wellbeing Center Housed

at the Y

Although the Y has addressed this prior to the pandemic, we have been more intentional in our programming and staffing. Kim Adie has recently been promoted to the Y’s Director of Wellbeing. In this capacity, she will help to create a culture that better supports mental health within the YMCA by developing and managing programs and services connected to the new Wellbeing Center at the Nashua YMCA. She is charged with further developing strong partnerships with other experts and organizations to help break down barriers that prevent to people from taking care of their physical and mental health.

According to Chief Operating Officer Joseph Manzoli, “By nurturing relationships with community health and wellness agencies and partners, Kim will focus on ensuring high quality programs and services are in place for members to connect their mental health with their physical health. The Director of Wellbeing will create or partner with others to offer programs and services for a wide variety of people from youth to teens to families to seniors and beyond so as to strengthen the impact the YMCA has on the overall health of our community.”

“I’m excited to make a further impact in my new role. The Y has always been invested in mental health, but the global pandemic really forced us to figure out how we can best support our community in a different capacity. We all have mental health but what it looks like or means to you is probably different than your neighbor. What you do each day to positively impact your mental health differs from person to person too.” Kim said.

She shared that there are two new dedicated spaces being transformed at the Y for programming such as mindfulness, yoga, and meditation as well as a room to host community partners and presentations, support groups and other programs.

“We are already a community hub and we want everyone to feel welcome here. By partnering with local experts to come and speak at the Y, we’re trying to help banish the stigma around mental health. You can come here and get a work out in but you can also come here and take care of your spirit. We welcome all to come and learn about a variety of mental well-being topics.”

Kim has been busy meeting with Y members, members of the medical organizations and mental health community to see what needs to be addressed and how we can help.

“It’s been really fun to sit down with our members who I haven’t had an opportunity to meet with one-on-one before to hear what mental wellness means to them. I’ve also learned that within our membership we have people with great skills that they wish to share with others. Two programs that come to mind that are new for us are an upcoming Mental Well-Being 101 with Y member Jennice Chewlin and a Pop-Up Post-Partum Fitness Series” she said. (Learn more about Jennice here: https://www.chewlingroup.com/about-us)

Stay Tuned: the Wellbeing Center will have an Open House Soon to Showcase our Space and Offerings

The soon to be unveiled Wellbeing Center is an exciting space that will be set up for new programs and classes and a further visual representation to our commitment to wellbeing. There are also plans to use our outdoor space at all of our branch facilities and camp to offer more wellness programs for youth, adults and seniors. Check our website (www.nmymca.org) and Facebook page for the latest.

Positive mental health can be supported in community settings, like the Y, in addition to traditional clinical settings. The Y supports the mental health of individuals and communities in all of the work we do to help people reach their full potential – whether that’s supporting youth in our summer camps, partnering with our community to help address poverty, or helping people achieve their best physical health.

Would you like to share your thoughts with Kim Adie? She can be reached at kadie@nmymca.org or at 603-689-2657.

Elizabeth A. Covino is chief community relations officer at the YMCA of Greater Nashua.