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 on: Gregg Sheldrake

Why does mental health matter to you?

I could talk for days on this question.  I think the first realization of how important mental health is, happened during my first year teaching a 4th grade classroom in South Los Angeles.  I found myself unable to respond appropriately, in the moment, to really intense social/emotional needs from my students.  I had students who experienced home invasion robberies, murder of family members, and drug affected family members. These students came to me with a level of pain that was a significant barrier to their education but also their quality of life and happiness.  I wanted to do more and be with the children in a way that I could help them.  Now I find myself in a position, not as a teacher, but as a school psychologist that allows me to address these specific needs, in the moment.  I find this work both challenging and rewarding….and I am thankful.

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

My son and I wanted to engage with volunteering but hadn’t really found a good way to do so.  The opportunity to volunteer with Keep Oregon Well has allowed my son and I to share our stories around depression and anxiety and the roles those have played in our lives.  It has been a powerful experience to connect, share, dance, and smile with such wonderful volunteers!

Tell me about your favorite volunteer experience?  

My favorite volunteer experience, in general, was the Peace Corps.  It was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences I’ve ever encountered.   I was a Teacher of a Foreign Language in Cape Verde, West Africa for a little over 2 years.

On the home front, I’ve enjoyed volunteering with Keep Oregon Well because I get a chance to connect with so many people, volunteers and others, that have so many stories and experiences to share.  It is powerful to connect through common experience.

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

On my journey of wellness and self-care I have focused on physical ways to take care of myself.  I chose to run to release stress but have realized I was not taking adequate care of my mind.  Since this realization I have begun to focus on hiking, reading, and other ways to relax my mind.  So from my experience, a balanced approach to wellness and self-care needs to focus on both mind and body.

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

‘The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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