The Borough of Madison Mayors Wellness Committee hosted the “Madison Walk of Wellness” program, which highlighted local wellness, mental health, and self-care services to increase relationships and reduce loneliness and the stigma associated with it. The day started with remarks from Mayor Robert Conley, followed by speakers from the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma, the Mental Health Association of Morris-Essex, and Support Network of Madison founder, Jen Walters. Residents were then guided throughout the downtown area to various wellness activities hosted by local businesses and organizations. Residents finished the walk at Hartley Dodge Memorial Plaza where food trucks and a local band greeted them. The Madison Walk of Wellness is a great example of how towns can bring together their community, including local organizations and businesses, to support residents’ health and wellness and break down barriers related to mental health.
How did you and your committee come up with the Madison Walk of Wellness program?
The Madison Rotary Club had conducted a community needs assessment along with a planning session with community leaders. It was clear from the process that mental health was the number one priority for our community. Previously our Wellness Campaign had concentrated efforts on physical health, but it’s important to recognize that you cannot have good physical health without good mental health.
What steps can other mayors take to start a similar program in their community?
Working with partner organizations was the key to our success. The first step is to reach out to potential organizations, such as a Rotary Club or YMCA, as well as mental health professionals in your community. The success of our program came from partnering with the Rotary, Support Network of Madison and the Madison Area YMCA.
How did Madison benefit from hosting the Walk of Wellness?
One of the goals of the Walk is to fight the stigma around mental health. With speakers sharing personal experiences, including one of our mental health professionals, we helped chip away at stigma. At the Walk, over 20 different activities addressing mental health and wellness concepts and resources, including breathing exercises, mindfulness, meditation, and a mental health resource tent, were offered by partner organizations and local businesses.
Is there anything else you would like to share about this program?
During the Walk, we shared that this is not a one-day thing, but rather, the launch of on-going program to connect people seeking help to resources as well as to decrease the stigma around seeking mental health.
To contact Mayor Conley to learn more about this program, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayors Wellness Campaign committees can also learn more and about MWC Mental Health programming by utilizing our MWC Mental Health Toolkit.