Local programs offer help for mental wellness [Towson]

The death of Robin Williams has stirred a discussion about mental wellness and removing the stigma often attached to depression. In Towson, many agencies offer programs to educate and help individuals live more balanced, happier lives. Unfortunately, too few people know about them or the wellness programs they offer.

One such organization is the Center for Mental Health (centerformentalhealth.net) in West Towson. Their practice offers traditional and non-traditional approaches to creating a well-balanced life.

Dena Leibowitz, a longtime Towson resident, is the founder and director of the Center For Mental Health, which opened in 1998. Her facility offers a variety of therapeutic strategies, including acupuncture, Reiki, massage therapy, reflexology, yoga and nutrition and herbal therapies.

Every Wednesday, she holds an open hour-long lecture series to help those who might be struggling with depression, substance abuse, addiction or other mental health disorders.

"It is a chance for individuals to connect, understand their struggles, and begin the journey of getting healthy," said Leibowitz.

Many people, however, hold back from seeking assistance because they are afraid of being labeled mentally ill. Leibowitz believes that this is one of the unfortunate consequences of a misinformed public about the issues surrounding mental illness.

"People need to realize that everybody walks around with this. It's not limited to people who are labeled mentally ill. We're all working and doing the best we can with the tools we have."

Leibowitz acknowledges that the road to wellness is not swift or simple. Stressful times can often lead to substance abuse. "There is no easy fix. It's not uncommon that a person who is struggling will feel negative about himself. It feels unmanageable, so they seek outside resources to help them cope. Even if they are taking steps to live a more healthy lifestyle, they aren't doing anything about the negative internal dialogue that might be deep within them."

Other organizations throughout Towson include Women in Wellness: womeninwellnessmd.com; the Towson Wellness Center: towsonwellnesscenter.com; and the Alternative Counseling & Wellness Center: http://www.alternativecounseling.net.

The Center for Mental Health and these other local centers offer a variety of events promoting wellness, including music, art, dance and yoga therapy.

According to Leibowitz, the road to wellness begins with support and understanding from friends, colleagues, and family members.

"People can help others by not using judgmental words. It's a matter of more people understanding that, today, there are new options to do something in a better way."

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