The Arrowhead Regional Public Health and Tribal Health Departments are challenging community members to share what they are grateful for during the month of May.

People are encouraged to share what they are grateful for on social media with the #GratitudeAttitudeMN. Schools and businesses are also urged to participate with gratitude challenges for their students or staff.

“Showing gratitude and being thankful helps improve your physical and mental health by improving your mood, as we express appreciation for the positive things we have decreased depression and stress,” said Crissy I-Wade, mental health supervisor/therapist for Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. “Gratitude helps improve your outlook on life. Being grateful helps to improve your relationships, as you and the people around you will feel more loved, cared about, happier, and appreciative that they have you in their life. Practice gratitude and show appreciation every day to improve your mental health, physical health, and relationships and together our community will grow.”

Health department staff from Koochiching, Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Lake, and St. Louis counties, and Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Health make up the Arrowhead Regional Public Health and Tribal Health Departments group. They have been working together on regional messaging related to COVID-19 for the past six months.

Mental well-being has been a top priority of the group throughout the pandemic. To highlight available resources and increase well-being in the region, the group chose to emphasize the practice of gratitude.

According to Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor, up to 40 percent of our happiness is under our conscious control. Regular gratitude practice is one of the tools Santos teaches to increase happiness in her course, “The Science of Well-Being.”

Research over the past 15 years shows that gratitude has an incredible impact on health. The benefits for those that practice gratitude include increasing happiness, reducing anxiety and depression, strengthening the immune system, and sleeping better, among a host of other advantages.

“As difficult as this pandemic has been on our community members, for so many reasons, we truly do have so much to be grateful for,” said Kelly Chandler, Itasca County Public Health Division manager. “We have vaccines less than a year into the pandemic, our students have been able to participate in activities as well as have in person learning. Businesses have been able to reopen with safety measures in place. Intentionally giving thought to what we are grateful for improves our physical and mental health, our relationships, enhances empathy and self-esteem. As we move into Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage our communities to give thought and intention to what they are grateful for and what they are looking forward to post-pandemic. Join us in the #GratitudeAttitudeMN challenge on social media.”

Gratitude is a powerful practice, but many individuals in our community may need more mental health assistance, the group stressed in a news release.

Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.