May is Mental Health Month and as I reflected on writing this Coffee with Beat, I was reminded of the findings AdventHealth made several years ago through a community health survey. AdventHealth and Avalon Park Group were trying to determine what medical specialists Avalon Park needs in its goal to become the healthiest community in central Florida and the conclusion was that we need more psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. The resounding cry was that above all other needs mental health was one of the most critical and where any community, including ours, could improve.
While we are not counselors at Avalon Park Group, although my wife Jill holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and is my closest advisor, we believe in MENS SANO IN CORPORE SANO, (a healthy mind in a healthy body) and understand the importance of mental health.
We believe that the composition of a healthy community has a direct impact on both the physical and mental health of its stakeholders. Building communities that are holistically strong includes a focus on establishing a place where the residents have a strong sense of belonging and safety. When you know your neighbors, they often become friends that you can relax with and check in on you in good and challenging times.
That sense of belonging and safety is also complemented with outlets for mind, body, and spirit. And understanding, that not all people respond to the same outlets, having a diverse offering is important for the health of the entire community. We are building Avalon Park to be programmed to provide outlets for all. For the body, there will be activities like yoga in the park and youth sports. For the mind, there are counselors, music and dance performances, art classes, and more. For the spirit, there are several churches of all faith bases located near Avalon Park. In Avalon Park, everything for your daily life will be at your fingertips, you do not have to leave the community, and that sense of belonging and safety becomes real. We continue to look for ways to improve the mental health opportunities for our community from bringing mental health doctors to the community to adding programming that will create positive outlets for all needs.
Around this time last year, I attended the inaugural church service started by our long-time friend Pastor Dale Brooks in Bithlo. In his sermon, he reminded the congregation that first and foremost the community needs God. And while there are many needs, such as clean water, enough food, and shelter, the foundation should remain rooted in faith.
I also truly believe giving back through community service helps with positive mental health. There are countless opportunities to give back and help in the community. I encourage you to look around to the local schools, non-profits, and service organizations to see where you can help the most.
With the focus on mental health in the month of May, I encourage you to explore the different ways we can continue to build a healthy community together.