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(NEW YORK) — Activists, advocates and celebrities across the globe are recognizing the importance of mental health awareness on Mental Health Action Day.
Chelsea Clinton — daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — has been passionate about pushing public health efforts for the last two decades, including mental health awareness.
“Self-care is so individual; the right answer is probably very different for me compared to anyone else,” Clinton told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “There are a few different dimensions. For me, spending time with my kids is a form of self-care. I’m a much happier person when I’m with my family. I try my hardest, while living in this virtual world, to preserve dinnertime, storytime and bathtime with my children. It’s really important for my emotional well-being, too.”
Clinton said she also likes to bike or go running five to six times a week, adding that physical self-care is another layer of mental health that is important and necessary.
“Sometimes I have to wake up extremely early to make that happen, but I find that it’s always worth it,” she said.
Mental Health Action Day, which is celebrated nationwide on May 20, is a movement of brands, organizations, government agencies and cultural leaders coming together to turn mental health awareness into mental health action. Its mission is to encourage and empower citizens to take their first actions during Mental Health Awareness Month, whether it’s for themselves, their loved ones or their communities.
To address the global mental health crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing outrage against systemic racism, more than 1,000 organizations and allies have signed on to be part of the inaugural Mental Health Action Day.
Disney is also partaking in various efforts by helping spread awareness, offering resources and support to employees and the public, as well de-stigmatizing topics surrounding mental health.
For the last 15 months, the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent shutdowns have had a significant effect on people’s mental health, making the movement more important than ever.
“I think it all depends on your individual situation,” Clinton added. “What is the COVID infection rate in your area? Who in your household is vaccinated? Do you have family members with compromised immune systems? As we navigate forward, I really would love to see the U.S. take the lead on vaccinations and take a stance globally because we can’t donate our way out of this.”
Although Clinton said she often looks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance, she believes doing research on your own is pertinent to getting through the rough patches and uneasiness of the pandemic.
“I think it’s important that we create a space where people can make decisions for themselves,” she said. “Hopefully, we get to the point of vaccinating every American who is eligible.”
Clinton said she also believes spiritual health is closely linked to mental health. The mother of three said she has continued to attend church services every Sunday through Zoom.
“A big part of self-care is just checking in with myself,” she said. “I always make sure I am having an internal dialogue on how I’m doing and how I’m feeling. If I’m not doing great, I can course correct it and try to be the best version of a mother, wife, friend and advocate, teacher, writer and more.”
“As a parent, I think it’s important we talk to our kids about mental health on an ongoing basis,” Clinton added. “We should talk to them about their feelings and recognize that those feelings are valid. At the Clinton Foundation, we have provided many resources over the course of the pandemic and we will continue to do so for our team members. I believe mental health is a part of health in general. We want people to have real conversations and try to de-stigmatize the topics surrounding it.”
Clinton said she has also been in the field with different religious leaders to help them navigate conversations about substance abuse and addiction.
“We at the foundation have been doing work for the last two years with different faith leaders around the country to help them talk to their congregations about substance abuse, disorders and addiction,” she said. “We received some really exciting evaluations and it seems to have proved super effective. Leaders are much more comfortable having those conversations.”
As Mental Health Awareness Month turns a corner, Clinton said she will continue to work on these initiatives with the foundation and strive to help those who are struggling, while also focusing on her own self-care.
“My husband loves to meditate every day to center himself — but I do not,” she said with a light laugh. “As long as I’m outdoors, I can clear my head and find my stillness.”
For more, visit the Clinton Foundation website.
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