Why Parks and Recreation Are Key Factors in the Support of Mental Health Initiatives

10/29/2020 1:30 p.m. EDT

Session Type:  Education Session (1 hour)

Track: Health and Wellness


Mental health issues throughout the United States continue to be a growing problem. The park and recreation field can play a significant role in offering services and support for those who experience challenges. Research has indicated the benefits individuals derive from a walk in the woods, working out, riding a bike or practicing mindfulness, among the myriad services we offer. The session will provide an overview about the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and its efforts in providing resources and support, both nationally and locally. NAMI can provide a variety of support services for individuals of all ages. In addition, the session will share details of best practice park and recreation agencies that are working in partnerships or offering their own programs in support of improving the wellness and emotional health of individuals in their communities. Discuss how to get started to become a leader in your community.


Learning Outcomes:

Discuss mental health issues and statistics related to mental health challenges in the United States.

List examples of worldwide efforts of cities, towns, and park and recreation agencies offering in support of providing resources for mental health challenges.

Discuss audience examples of efforts currently being done by audience members' agencies.



Barbara Heller

Manager/Practice Lead, BerryDunn

Barbara Heller has 40 years of industry experience, including 30 years working for park and recreation agencies and 12 years as a consultant in the field, focusing on strategy, organizational development, leadership development and best practices related to knowledge management and measuring organizational performance.


April Chambers

Vice President, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI)

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