We interviewed District Wellness Coordinator Mrs. Katie Newman! She is based in Georgia where she is serving to help provide wellness resources to students and families across the county. Learn about her take on mental health!
Question: What is the main focus of your job?
Answer: The main focus of my job is addressing barriers to wellness needs of students and families all across Forsyth county. I look through the lens of a social worker, not only looking at internal challenges but also environmental.
Question: How many years have you worked in the wellness field? Why did you choose this career pathway?
Answer: I have worked in school social work for 14 years. I wanted to help students and families with a wide net of challenges. Education has been such a powerful tool for students to create connections, a sense of purpose and belonging, and avoid negative life altering decisions. I was a youth camp leader and I always wanted to help students but did not yet have the skills for their greater needs. In worship, I remember thinking “if not you then who?” I've always had a strong sense of social justice so it just made sense to look into a career in social work.
Question: What is your favorite wellness activity?
Answer: My favorite wellness activities are ones that recharge my battery. I love running and playing guitar because it helps reduce stress and anxiety. When I am running, the rhythm of the right and left foot helps settle my mind.
Question: What does the term mental health mean to you?
Answer: Mental health is not only the absence of illness but also the possession of skills necessary to cope with life challenges.
Question: What do you think are the most effective ways to spread mental health awareness?
Answer: I think building relationships and conversation. PSAs and billboards bring thoughts that come and go but starting a conversation can make an impact. With my Native American background, narratives and storytelling is very important. It helps people remember the personal statements, building resilience and coping skills.
Question: What is the most important component to maintaining positive wellness growth?
Answer: Keeping a growth mindset and help-seeking behavior are the most important components to maintaining positive growth. With the growth mindset, knowing that your situation no matter how hard is temporary. Staying hopeful is essential. When you feel comfortable seeking help when you need it, you feel supported.
Question: How do you think other areas of wellness relate to mental health?
Answer: I think all areas of wellness: Financial, Environmental, Emotional, Relational/Social, Cultural, Occupational, Intellectual, and Physical all impact mental health. For example, with physical wellness if your diet is lacking it can impact you, your gut is your second brain.
Question: Is there any advice you would give to someone who is struggling?
Answer: You are not alone, this is only temporary. You are worthy. Everyone struggles with mental health. It spans across different economic status, gender, age, and lifespan. We are not perfect nor are our lives meant to be but in order to thrive, we need to seek out what will help us grow. Remember that things can be difficult but you can be okay. In the eye of a hurricane, chaos can surround you but there can be calmness within.