Eskenazi Health and Center for Mind Body Medicine training provides attendees with tools for healing in the midst of pandemic
by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not for Profit News
As experts seek to gain a better understanding of the long-term impact of COVID-19 on mental health, about 1,500 Hoosiers have recently enrolled in evidence-based training to proactively equip themselves with self-care tools, including meditation, guided imagery and biofeedback under Eskenazi Health’s Hoosier Heartland Healing Collaborative.
The free statewide initiative, which is sponsored by Eskenazi Health, in partnership with the Center for Mind Body Medicine, comes at a time when people are increasingly acknowledging the need for managing stress and trauma, said Megan Hider, Mind-Body Program supervisor at Eskenazi Health.
“I do think the conversation has really changed, in a good way, about how we think about stress, and our emotional health, spiritual health and how we physically function,” Hider said. “Wellness and mindfulness have become more mainstream throughout society. We’ve all been dealing with trauma and secondary trauma. We need to chip away at the stigma of trauma, whether it’s everyday trauma or a natural disaster, or whatever we experience.”
As part of the program, which was partially funded by the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, individuals participate in small groups of 8 to 10 people led by a facilitator who has gone through a two-part training program. The participants are asked to commit to a series of 2-hour weekly sessions during an 8-week period. As part of the training, participants learn numerous self-care skills that have been scientifically proven to lower levels of stress, improve mood, enhance resiliency and optimism, and help prevent chronic health conditions.
Hider said that the free training, which is open to any Indiana resident, can better equip first responders and other employees who are in a position of helping others. By learning the self-care techniques themselves, they can manage the stressors in their own lives so that they can better focus on helping others in challenging situations. “With everything we’ve been going through in the past year, it came at a perfect time,” she said.
The benefits of the training were quickly evident, said Christy Gauss, MSW, LSW, owner of SCP Consultants and a former school mental health facilitator for the Indiana School Mental Health Initiative. Gauss, who underwent intensive training to become a licensed group facilitator under the Mind Body program, said it was a powerful experience.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went into it,” Gauss recalled. “You learn the science and skills of self-care in an environment where you have peer-to-peer support. It’s all about you and what it means in your own life before you start learning how to teach everyone else.”
Gauss said that type of firsthand learning is essential for those who support others, including first-responders, teachers and nonprofit employees. The potential for burnout can be significant for these groups, she added.
“You have to learn how stress is impacting you first,” she said. “You need to put on your own oxygen first, which we can be very bad at.”
Hider said the training can be very empowering for the attendees, who are able to devote an uninterrupted span of time to focus on themselves during each session. “It gives you space to become self-aware of your feelings, emotions and body sensations,” she said. “You’re able to learn about the physiology of the body and what happens when you’re stressed and when you’re calm.
“You are given the ability to heal yourself in a unique way that doesn’t happen in other spaces,” Hider added. “If we want to show up to places of service and places of community, we must be advocates for ourselves.”
For more information about the Eskenazi Health Hoosier Heartland Healing Collaborative or to sign up for a session, visit the program’s site here.