Our Blog

School-Based Health

Region 9 has so many programs that make a difference every day in our communities. School-based health is no exception. This link to a recent article in the Ruidoso Newspaper that has great information provided by Ashlee McEwan, our school-based health director. Please scroll down to the Help Available header to read the article. Her entire article is also provided below.

Help is available.

Although lack of mental health services often is cited in rural counties, Ashlee McEwen, Coordinator of the Region IX School-Based Health Center, disagrees that's the case in Lincoln County.

"From my perspective, there are a lot of providers in the town," she said. "Sometimes new patients might have to wait a month or so before they can get an appointment. I think there is a lack of knowledge about what is available. The community health council's health and wellness guide have many listed. The school-based health center provides free health services to all children for the counties of Lincoln and Otero."

You can visit the council website and/or check out the health and wellness guide.

This time of social distancing, isolation, fear, and stress can cause some people to feel that life isn’t worth living anymore. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at 1 (855) 662-7474, or visit the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line website or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or text HOME to 741741, or visit the National Suicide Prevention website.

McEwen said while people should take care of themselves mentally and physically at all times, the COVID-19 pandemic makes self-care even more important.

"What is self-care? Self-care is anything you do that helps fill you up, restores some energy, or brings about pleasant or helpful thoughts and feelings," she said

She cited as examples taking a walk, deep breathing, having a bath, journaling, painting, dancing, talking to a friend, yoga and reading a book.

"The only thing they cost is a little bit of time and self-awareness," McEwen said, noting that work-outs and other self-care routines can be found on YouTube and helpful apps can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet: 

"Once you have a few self-care practices in your toolbox, make a commitment to yourself that you will take time and make time to practice it," McEwen urged. "You will practice self-care for your own well-being and for the well-being of those you care for and interact with. Make self-care a daily or weekly practice and you will begin to see a difference in your life."

She offered a few tips for staying at home and staying healthy during the pandemic.

Follow a routine - Structure adds comfort to our days which can feel pretty chaotic right now. Make a schedule for yourself and your family. Be sure to be flexible and add in downtime and time for self-care.

Go outside - Just because we have to stay at home doesn’t mean we have to stay inside our home. Sit on the porch, take a walk, let the sun shine on your face. Vitamin D makes a world of difference! While you are out, take some deep breaths of fresh air and think of something you can be thankful for.

Practice gratitude - Positive thoughts make a huge difference in our physical and mental health. You can keep a gratitude journal, make a gratitude jar, or even set an alarm on your phone that says “Be thankful” to remind you to think of something positive.

Get moving - Exercise is not only beneficial physically, but it increases the “happy chemicals” in the brain to help us feel better mentally as well. You can find a lot of videos on YouTube to follow along with from yoga to walking to biking. Find something the whole family can do together and add it to your schedule for the day. Here is one that my kids and I enjoy.

Get relaxing - There are so many ways to relax - take a hot bath, progressive muscle relaxation, gentle yoga, deep breathing - I could go on and on. Try out a few relaxation techniques and give yourself the time to do them! (YouTube is a great resource for relaxation as well as exercise.)

Be kind to yourself - What you say to yourself matters. Give yourself some grace as you transition to working from or staying at home.

"Sometimes, we need help from a professional to deal with the difficult thoughts and feelings that we experience," McEwen said. "There are many behavioral health professionals in Lincoln County who can help you through this difficult time. Look in the health and wellness guide for providers or call your insurance provider to find out who is in your network. Free behavioral health is available to all students and children in Lincoln County through the Region 9 School-Based Health Center. Call (505) 750-0141 for an appointment."

By Bryan Dooley