BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michigan,
organized various activities to increase awareness and demonstrate coping mechanisms for those who need an outlet from everyday life stressors.
This year’s lunch and learn theme is “De-Stress Your Life.” Each week, employees are introduced to topics like breathing exercises that can stimulate and soothe the nervous system, mindfulness, chair yoga, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
MWR Battle Creek Family Advocacy Program Manager Lisa Grenon spoke about why this year’s theme is particularly important to the workforce.
“There is a huge correlation between depression, anxiety and suicides,” Grenon said. “In fact, 90% of people who die by suicide have an untreated mental health problem – most often of which are depression – so doing things like mindfulness and deep breathing are huge for someone dealing with depression and anxiety to [help] calm themselves.”
Due to the increased isolation and anxiety from the pandemic, depression has steadily been on the rise. All the unknowns associated with the disease like what the future holds in preventing and treating COVID-19 has not been easy to process mentally.
“It seems like everything has escalated for people during COVID-19 and isolation is a huge piece,” Grenon said. “Depression, anxiety and suicide numbers are increasing so it is important that we provide the tools [that can help].”
In conjunction with the “De-Stress Your Life” series, MWR Battle Creek’s Fitness Center has also planned an awareness campaign that sheds light on veteran suicide.
“We are also doing the 22 Challenge which is really cool; it’s also a reminder that 22 veterans a day are dying by suicide,” Grenon said.
The 22 Challenge runs from Sept. 1-22. Participants are asked to complete 22 exercises per day, examples include 22 push-ups, air squats or even 22 minutes of running or walking. Employees send their daily activity to the MWR Battle Creek fitness team who then log the activity.
A main take-away from Grenon is making it a habit to ask, “are you okay?” and checking in with those who are alone or who may be struggling emotionally.
“On all of my calls I’ve been saying, check on people and let them know they aren’t alone,” Grenon said. “Sometimes when you’re not walking in it, it’s hard to realize that there are people who don’t have support and people are in emotional pain. It’s so important just to ask people and check on them.”
MWR Battle Creek is making mental health awareness a priority not only during Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month but as an indefinite initiative for Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management and Disposition Services.
Suicide Prevention and Awareness Resources:
MWR Battle Creek Family Advocacy Program: https://www.defensemwr.com/battlecreek/programs-services/family-programs
Military/Veteran Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis
MWR Battle Creek Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month: https://www.defensemwr.com/battlecreek/quick-links/SuicidePrevention