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Mental Health Agency Explores Self-Care Options

Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a multi-faceted social services agency that provides behavioral health services in all 22 counties of western South Dakota. CSS applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is a WorkWell Grant success story written by CSS:

CSS used its WorkWell grant funding to address staff challenges when working in the high-stress fields of mental health, poverty-reduction, and substance abuse. The agency offered staff educational presentations on various physical, mental, and spiritual health topics throughout the year at monthly employee gatherings that typically lasted for 30 minutes. These presentations were followed by individual commitments from employees to practice or implement the new techniques in their daily lives for the coming month. These practices ranged from physical activity and fitness challenges, dietary changes, stress-reduction techniques and more.

Some key components of the wellness and self-care education were:

  1.  Self-care webinar for mental health providers
  2.  Improving brain health through nutrition and exercise
  3.  Office yoga demonstration
  4.  Aromatherapy and chair massage
  5.  Desk and work station ergonomic assessments
  6.  Guided meditation for stress relief
  7.  Journaling for emotional and spiritual health
  8.  Spinal/chiropractic health
  9.  Lakota spirituality beliefs
  10.  Fit 150 Challenge (150 minutes of physical exercise per week)
  11.  0 to 60 Water Challenge (consume 60 ounces of water per day)

Three CSS employees reported significant decreases in weight, A1C diabetes levels, and other health improvements that they attribute to their participation in the WorkWell activities. One individual lost 22 pounds and saw her A1C levels drop to within normal range and eliminated a diagnosis of prediabetes!

This wellness project created a more cohesive staff. It improved team work and communication between individual employees and whole departments as staff were sharing exercise regimens, encouraging dietary changes, and trying new self-care techniques as a team.