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News | May 20, 2024

Walter Reed's Behavioral Health Team Host Paint and Chat event

By Vernishia Vaughn, WRNMMC, Office of Command Communications

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Behavioral Health team hosted “Mental Health Paint and Chat”, an event aiming to highlight the therapeutic benefits of art and conversation in mental well-being.

The idea for this event was conceived by Army 1st Lt. Anthony Eldridge, a Walter Reed psychology intern, who saw the value in providing a creative outlet for staff, patients and families during the significant month dedicated to mental health. 

“Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, we identified a pressing need for our staff to engage their artistic inclinations as a form of relaxation and mental decompression,” Eldridge said.

In an effort to demonstrate practical, accessible ways to manage and improve mental health, the Behavioral Health team emphasizes that the event is a modality showing that it’s possible to maintain focus and balance without necessitating intensive intervention. 

“Mental Health Paint and Chat was rooted in the idea of breaking the daily routine to offer a moment of creative respite,” shared Army Sgt. 1st Class Zachary Mcgee, the Directorate for Behavioral Health senior enlisted leader.  “This event serves a dual purpose – to afford an enjoyable break and to underscore the profound impact artistic activities can have on our mental health.”

The event hosted nearly 100 participants and when asked about the future of this initiative, Mcgee shared, “This year’s event is a unique occasion. However, based on the feedback we receive, we’re open to the possibility of making it an annual feature in our calendar. The value it brings to our staff’s wellbeing could very well justify its recurrence.”

Mcgee expressed high hopes for the outcome of the day’s activities. 
“Our team is hoping that every participant leaves feeling mentally rejuvenated,” shared Mcgee. “It’s easy to overlook mental health in a high-demand work environment.”

The "Mental Health Paint and Chat" event organized by the Behavioral Health team in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, not only underscores the therapeutic value of integrating art and dialogue into mental health practices but also serves as a demonstration of the team's dedication to cultivating a culture that prioritizes and actively advocates for mental health and support, especially within the demanding context of their work environment.
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