Keep Oregon Well is a public advocacy campaign designed to reduce stigma surrounding mental and behavioral health, build a trauma-informed community, and give people the opportunity to learn more about mental health and stand with those struggling with theirs.

This ongoing volunteer spotlight blog series features some of the many caring, talented, passionate people it takes to spread the word about Keep Oregon Well throughout Oregon!

Keep Oregon Well Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Comia

Why does mental health matter to you?

Mental health matters to me because it is just as important as our physical health. Our mental health affects not only our cognitive thinking, but also our relationship with others, and our physical behavior. Handling our mental health determines how we relate and empathize with others, how we make and decide what choices to make, and also how we handle stress and process emotions and other feelings.

What initially made you want to volunteer with Keep Oregon Well or Trillium?

One of my great colleagues, Eric Zimmerman, told me about this organization because originally, I was looking for opportunities to gain volunteer hours; however, as I did more research and site visits and talking to the staff, I saw how this organization and family puts emphasis on such an important factor. This organization, despite the amount of knowledge I have, made me feel like I can do a change to people’s lives. Trillium welcomed me and gave me life skills I would not be able to gain from other organizations. I found Trillium and Keep Oregon Well special because it is teaching this generation to talk about mental health so much to make the next upcoming generation to never feel the stigma against it.

Tell me about your favorite volunteer experience?

Every volunteer experience I have been a part of have been my favorite because they have always been different from the other, and the interactions I’ve had from each one of them left me a better person. But if I have to name a specific event or experience, it would be the 5K race for the clients and staff at Children’s Farm Home. It reminded me that life’s not a race, but a marathon. No one should ever feel pressured about someone else’s pace. It promoted physical activity, and it was really fun cheering these people on from the side of the course.

Keep Oregon Well is centered around wellness and self-care. Tell us about some of the ways you take care of yourself.

When I feel overwhelmed, I go for a run to clear my head or start heading to the gym to workout. I recently got myself into yoga, so that has also been one of the things that keeps my head clear. I am also starting to feel comfortable asking people to hang out and open up to them; I am finding the courage to seek for help whenever things do not go as successful as I want them to be. I realized that people care about my health and well-being, and that I should not feel scared to open up because they really do mean care and love for me. I usually listen to music as well and read books and poetry. Once in a while I would declutter and clean my room, and I also fix my bed everytime I get out of it; it makes me feel that if I could do this one thing, I can also accomplish one another thing throughout the day.

To close our chat today, do you have a favorite quote you would be willing to share?

“Staying positive doesn’t mean you don’t feel sad or angry or defeated. It just means you keep on going anyway and you are brave for doing so.” – A special friend of mine.

Is there anything you would add? 

I think it is wonderful to know that no matter how tiny or big someone knows about mental health, they can be an advocate for it and could make this generation end the stigma against it.