Guest post by Paula Detwiller

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that our mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand.  Remember the “bad old days” when COVID-19 traveled like wildfire through nursing homes, claiming hundreds of lives, and keeping family members separated? This public health disaster created a cascade of emotions — fear, anxiety, grief, depression — throughout the population. And in turn, our strong emotional reactions negatively impacted our physical health. We suffered from disrupted sleep, poor digestion, flareups of autoimmune diseases, and many other ailments.

That is why, in the early days of the pandemic, behavioral health professionals at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) created a program designed to help state residents manage their pandemic-related distress. The “Stay Well” program is still going strong today because the need is still there!

Stay Well services you can tap into

All services and resources are available by phone or online. Here’s what we offer:

  • The Stay Well counseling line, providing emotional support from trained crisis counselors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re feeling low and just need someone to talk to, dial up a Stay Well counselor at 888-535-6136, and wait for the prompt to press “8.” Counseling is free and confidential.
  • “Cultivating Joy” video series. Visit our website (Michigan.gov/StayWell) and click the black button that says Video Resources. You’ll find a collection of short, animated videos designed to help you rediscover optimism and hope. Popular topics include Positive Psychology, Joyful Activities, and Gratitude and Joy.

  • Online discussion groups for various populations, including Older Adults, are held on Zoom and moderated by Stay Well counselors. Participants get a chance to connect with others who can relate to their experiences and reactions. The Older Adults group meets every Wednesday at 10 a.m. To find the Older Adults registration link, visit Michigan.gov/StayWell and click the Online Discussion Groups button.
  • Psychoeducational webinars. Check out the Mental Wellness Webinars page of our website to find recordings of presentations given to various audiences throughout the past two years. Don’t miss the recordings of our Summer Resilience Series from 2021, which includes 1-hour lessons in art therapy, meditation, music for mindfulness, exercise, yoga, and healthy nutrition.

The Stay Well program’s motto is “Be Kind to Your Mind.” It is a gentle reminder that there should be no shame or stigma associated with getting emotional support if the ongoing pandemic is getting you down. In fact, it can keep serious mental health issues at bay. So: here’s to your health – both mental and physical.   


About the Author

Paula Detwiller is a Lansing-area writer and editor who manages communication efforts for the Stay Well program.

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