Home Posts tagged Mental Wellness


By Dr. Negar Beheshti

In a world where the pursuit of perfection can sometimes overshadow the significance of self-compassion, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center emphasizes the need for New Year’s resolutions that prioritize mental health and are both realistic and achievable. This approach aims to reduce the pressure often associated with traditional New Year’s resolutions and promotes a more holistic perspective on personal growth. The key themes are:

Prioritize self-care rituals. Resolve to incorporate daily self-care rituals into your routine. This could include activities like meditation, reading, taking a warm bath, or going for a nature walk.

Establish healthy boundaries. Set clear boundaries in your personal and professional life. Learn to say ‘no’ when necessary and prioritize activities that contribute positively to your well-being.

Cultivate mindfulness and presence. Make a commitment to being more present in the moment. Practice mindfulness through activities like meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or simply taking a moment to appreciate the present.

Nurture positive relationships. Focus on building and strengthening positive relationships. Invest time in meaningful connections with friends and family, fostering a support system that contributes to your emotional well-being.

Limit screen time. Reduce the time spent on electronic devices and social media. Allocate time for activities to promote mental health, such as reading, engaging in hobbies, or spending quality time with loved ones.

Practice gratitude. Start a gratitude journal and make it a habit to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. Regularly expressing gratitude can shift your focus towards positivity.

Engage in regular physical activity. Choose physical activities that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine. Exercise has proven benefits for mental health, releasing endorphins that can boost mood and reduce stress.

Seek professional support. Break down the stigma surrounding mental health by committing to seeking professional support when needed. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable tools for managing stress, anxiety, or other mental-health challenges.

Embrace a healthy sleep routine. Prioritize sleep by establishing a consistent sleep routine. Ensure that you are getting enough restorative sleep each night, as it plays a crucial role in mental and emotional well-being.

Learn a new skill or hobby. Engage your mind in positive and creative activities by learning a new skill or picking up a hobby. This can provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to your overall sense of well-being.


Dr. Negar Beheshti is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist and chief medical officer for both MiraVista and TaraVista Behavioral Health Centers.

Senior Planning

How Seniors Can Maintain Mental Wellness

By Behavioral Health Network


How can people continue to support their mental health and find ways to engage in life as they age? Leona LaFleur, a behavioral-health clinician and mental-health consultant for elder services at Behavioral Health Network, has been finding those answers through the people she works with.

Their wealth of life experience is key, she says. “I am constantly learning from my clients. They have a good degree of resilience, and so I try to help them identify what their strengths are.”

Leona LaFleur

Leona LaFleur

“A lot of people have this idea that we have to make huge changes in order to feel some success, and that’s not really necessary. We can experience success from small changes.”

According to LaFleur, there are four pillars of mental wellness for seniors: sleep, nutrition, exercise, and social connection. The latter of these is of the utmost importance, as recently referenced in an advisory by the U.S. surgeon general.

As we get older and our bodies age, maintaining a sense of control can be difficult, and choosing the people you allow to be in your life and influence you helps maintain that sense of control. Not only that, but the COVID-19 pandemic and forced isolation was tough on many people’s connections, and many are still reeling from those impacts today.

LaFleur advises seniors and their loved ones to assess how well these pillars are being addressed and where they might need to make a change. It is important to normalize what they are going through, recognize where they may be stuck, and then identify what small things can be done to make progress.

“A lot of people have this idea that we have to make huge changes in order to feel some success, and that’s not really necessary,” she said. “We can experience success from small changes.”

For example, if there is a need for more physical activity, she might recommend connecting with a friend who does yoga. Sometimes the change is as simple as getting out of bed, which can be difficult for some seniors due to their physical limitations. It is important to note that, in many cases, the elderly are not disconnected in life because they are depressed, necessarily, but because it is physically difficult for them to actively engage in their life.

Breaking things down into small components helps with anxiety and decision fatigue as well. Because of the abundance of information in the world today, people can be easily overwhelmed. Simplifying things is important to identify where the challenges are and where improvement can happen. LaFleur notes that “I try to break things down and recognize the individual, and try to get them to identify what they need.”

She also recommends considering mental healthcare like an ‘emotional bank account.’ Determine what actions can you take — whether relaxing, socializing, or otherwise — to put ‘money’ in the bank and increase your reserves for managing stress. With more reserves in your emotional bank account, you are better able to manage difficult situations that you encounter.

Deposits are different for each person and situation. For example, social actions are not always a deposit; time spent with family can come with difficult history and thus can increase stress. It is important to give yourself credit for the things you do, especially the little things, because they all contribute to your self-worth and overall well-being.




Girls on the Run isn’t about running.

Sure, running is a big part of this program for girls in grades 3-8; participants learn to enjoy running and build endurance so they can keep at it longer — and become healthier in the process.

But the heart of this organization (see story on page 30) isn’t physical endurance; it’s emotional resilience. It’s about social-emotional health, developing confidence, and finding joy.

And those can be challenges for young people today.

“We’ve definitely tapped into a need,” Alison Berman, council director of Girls on the Run Western Massachusetts, told us. “There’s a huge child mental-health crisis right now. And whatever’s going on with them, Girls on the Run is giving them this extra layer of skills to support them.”

Interestingly, we spoke with Berman and her team members during Mental Health Awareness Month, just a few days after we visited Springfield Central Library for another program aimed at young people and their emotional wellness.

Specifically, MiraVista Behavioral Health Center partnered with the Holyoke Public Library and Springfield’s city libraries to encourage awareness and conversations on the topic of mental wellness. Displays of books and other materials have been prominently set up to promote understanding around mental health and to encourage such collaborations for libraries to become better resources on the topic — for visitors of all ages, including (and, perhaps, especially) youth.

María Pagán, Holyoke Public Library director, said she hopes that, by making educational materials about mental health and substance use more accessible, the effort will eventually encourage people to learn about these conditions, recognize them, and seek any needed assistance.

Jean Canosa Albano, assistant director for Public Services at Springfield Central Library, said librarians don’t judge what people read. “The same thing goes for if you were to come into a library and ask a question that concerns mental health or emotional wellness. We don’t judge that. We’re here to help you no matter what.”

The displays, she said, might help visitors find something they need, and realize that “this is a safe place to ask questions, including about your emotional wellness.”

Meanwhile, just a few months ago, the Springfield Youth Mental Health Coalition, convened by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, launched “I Am More Than My Mood,” a new awareness campaign that aims to normalize healthy conversations about mental health and encourage youth and their caregivers in Greater Springfield to discuss stress, anxiety, and depression as common challenges that everyone goes through.

These are just a few examples, but the message is clear: mental-health issues are common — and were certainly exacerbated during the pandemic, especially for young people — and the time is always right to talk about them (as in the case of the library partnership and the coalition campaign) and give kids healthy alternatives to achieve personal wellness (as Girls on the Run and other youth-serving nonprofits do).

Pagán, for her part, agrees with Canosa. “No judgment. You might read something because you want to, you’re curious, or because you know somebody that might benefit, and you could help if you learn about it. Information is power.”

So is talking about mental health. So let’s keep talking.