Mental health awareness

Monthlong lineup of activities planned by the Oak Bluffs library.


The ideas of mental health and celebration might not typically be paired. But Amy Nelson, the programming coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, has arranged an enticing array of free programs for Mental Health Awareness Month that do just that. Her goal is to create safe spaces for conversations about mental health, provide resources, and promote healing in community with others.

Pilates Burn starts the celebration on Saturday, May 4, from 9 to 10 am with Camille Beauzile. Her popular, core-focused, booty-blasting class is a fun, challenging, full-body, low-impact workout designed for all fitness levels, performed to fast-paced music.

For something soothing, Shanta Gabriel will offer forest bathing at Polly Hill Arboretum on Saturday, May 4, from 10 to 11 am. This Japanese relaxation practice is a simple method of being calm and quiet in nature while breathing deeply. It can help adults and children destress, and boost mental performance, immune response, and well-being.

Many know the benefits of yoga, but how about trying it in the air, building a new relationship with Earth’s gravity? Jen DeLorenzo will offer Aerial Yoga and Mindful Sensory Self-Exploration offsite, on Saturday, May 4, from 1 to 3 pm, and Saturday, May 11, from noon to 2 pm. The session includes 45 minutes of aerial yoga, and 15 minutes of mindful sensory experience. (Preregistration is required, via or 508-693-9433.)

The lineup on Sunday, May 5, begins with a group meditation from 11 am to noon, with Joyce Salvo, followed from 12 to 1 pm by Hypnotherapy for Anxiety and Depression, where Rachel Elion Baird will teach participants self-hypnosis tools, and lead a relaxing group hypnosis session.

From 2 to 4 pm that same day, five Island acupuncturists will offer free 30-minute Acupuncture and Zero Balance treatments to alleviate stress, insomnia, anxiety, grief, and depression. Zero balance releases deep tension in bones, joints, and soft tissue. Afterward, you may feel lighter, freer, energized, and more in tune with yourself.

Offerings for Saturday, May 11, start at 10 to 10:45 am, with Emily Mizer’s body strength training class, perfect for those new to fitness or looking to level up. Those who register for this class will receive a free personal boxing or strength-training session with Mizer. (Preregistration is required via or 508-693-9433.)

On Saturday, May 11, from 4 to 5:30 pm and Saturday, May 18, 11 am to 12:30 pm, you can delve into Mindful Money Management: A Mindful Approach to Money and Personal Finance with YogiJay, a yoga instructor and CPA. The program will look at how to merge financial acumen and mindfulness to improve your relationship with money, and how to make choices aligned with your core values and future vision.

Individuals and entrepreneurs will learn how to tackle financial stress, cultivate a budget rooted in intention, and make informed investment decisions. “Money is not usually discussed when it comes to mental health,” says Nelson. “But it is a constant presence and dominating force in most of our lives.”

On Wednesday, May 15, from noon to 1 pm, have lunch with the excellent nonprofit Lasagna Love! born out of the pandemic and the need for community, connection, and helping. Their mission is simple: Feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities. The organization’s efforts not only help address food insecurity, but also provide a simple act of love in times of uncertainty and stress. “I think it is intrinsically tied to mental wellness, which is caring for each other, helping people who might be in need, or a lovely gesture to make others feel better,” Nelson says.

On Thursday, May 16, from 6 to 8 pm, there will be Slough Farm Writers’ Circle and Sound Bath for those who practice poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, memoir, journalism, or screenwriting. Nelson, who is also a journalist and filmmaker, and Anna Marden, a creative nonfiction writer and owner of Sonic Flow, a sound healing practice, will moderate this two-hour sound, writing, and discussion session. Light snacks will be provided. (Preregistration is required via or 508-693-9433.)

Closing out the month on Tuesday, May 21, from 6 to 7:30 pm, will be the program Recovery Curious? A Panel Talk and Community Discussion About Recovery Resources on-Island, followed by a Q and A and tea and dessert.

Recovery coaches Dr. Brian Morris, Christine Thompson-Colbert, and Eric Adams will share their experiences coaching those in recovery, and how best to get help or help the ones you love. Robert Cropper, director of recovery services at M.V. Community Services, and Jenn Vogelo, director of the Vineyard House, will provide additional insight into community resources and how to get help. Nelson explains, “The aim is for people curious about getting help or helping their loved ones or friends to learn information and share in a comfortable and welcoming space.”

Nelson says that commonly, many of the practices covered in the various programs over the month are practiced in private.: “Being able to do that in community can be quite powerful when you sit in a room and know that everyone is there because they are trying to heal.”

For more information, or suggestions for future programs, contact Amy Nelson at or 508-693-9433.