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Psychiatry and Behavioral Health supports wellness, community

The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health has turned “wellness” into an action word for its trainees.

Since 2018, the department has participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community event, a 5K walk generally held each May at Harrisburg Area Community College’s Harrisburg campus. For 2020, the event is being held as an online-only fundraiser and virtual walk.

The overarching goal of the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is to “help participating organizations raise money for their individual missions,” the organization’s website states. The walk is open to community health and service organizations and 100 percent of the funds raised go directly to the participating organization, as Highmark covers all expenses related to the walk itself.

The money raised by the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health team is used to fund creative activities designed to help trainees maintain their well-being. The department created a cost center specifically for funds raised through the program, and the money is used exclusively for trainee wellness activities.

For a department training activity to be eligible for funds from this cost center:

  • It must benefit all trainees within the department (residents, fellows and psychology interns)
  • It must cover at least one (but usually more) wellness dimension: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and/or spiritual.

Team captains for the Psychiatry and Behavioral Health team are Kristin Hollis, GME coordinator, and Sanjay Yadav, MD, assistant professor and faculty champion. Together, they get the word out to faculty, administrative staff members and trainees to build a team to walk and fundraise. With the support of department chair Erika Saunders, MD, the team has successfully raised more than $1,000 each year. Online contributions are being accepted for this year’s virtual walk here.

To date, funds have been used to provide quarterly healthy snack boxes, hold art therapy sessions and fund various other well-being activities. Last spring, massage therapists were brought in during morning didactics and all trainees were treated to a 10-minute chair massage. “Now THIS is wellness!” one trainee commented on the activity.

Once on-campus activities resume, training coordinators are also planning a half-day “Amazing Chase for Wellness” event that will have trainees participating in six wellness-related challenges all over the campus of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

The broader Penn State Health organization has participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community event for the past 12 years.

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