Orange County

You Might See More Green Benches Around Orange County, Here's Why

In an effort to help promote mental health awareness the Green Bench OC is placing green benches in different parks to help give people an opportunity to have meaningful conversations.

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Mental health and well being of all is a global priority that's the theme of Mental Health Awareness Day. Some people might even find a place to care for their own mental health at some local parks.

The statistics might be alarming but according to the World Health Organization, 700,000 people commit suicide every year due to stress or depression.

In it's most current report, the WHO says anxiety went up 25% the first year of the pandemic. Experts say what is needed now is a mental health transformation.

Christy Cornwall is director of community health services for Providence Hospitals.

"I think there's a lot of healing to be done," Cornwall said.

She says that can happen if people just promise to talk. Where better than here? Park benches can be inviting in the shade, provide a place to watch children play, or as in this case a spot to sit and listen.

"A bench represents a way to have a friendly conversation with someone you know and love," Cornwall said.

Green Bench OC is a mental health awareness program symbolic for being painted bright lime the international color of mental health awareness.

It is also a grass roots movement evolving out of a need to de-stigmatize the shame of seeking help.

So far the group has placed about a dozen green benches in parks throughout Orange County.

The group is also hoping to target mothers who they believe can make the biggest difference.

"We know moms often the health care decision makers in families they encourage people to go to see the doctor so whether its for your physical health or mental health they can be that connector," Cornwall said.

Organizers want this concept to grow. The benches, they say, are simply a reminder to stop, pause, and lend an ear.

"Have an exchange that is very empathetic," Cornwall said. "A listening ear is oftentimes what people need, even just to take the first steps."

This day marking the awareness of mental health issues has actually been around for 30 years. Monday the WHO says the best way to deal with stress and anxiety is to take care of your physical being first.

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