Columbus Emotional Health

Columbus Emotional Health Matters

Monthly Email Newsletter for the Residents of Columbus

A colorful mural of two hands clasped together

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Art by Annabelle Wombacher, Jared Mar, Sierra Ratcliff and Benjamin Cahoon

NOVEMBER 4, 2020

Connection & Community

Mat Hargett

Our last newsletter focused on self-care. One of the six core areas of self-care is relationship or social health. With the holidays fast approaching, we could not think of a better theme for this newsletter. But isolation caused by COVID-19 has made things a little trickier to say the least. On top of it, we just finished one of the most polarizing elections in our country's history.

Therefore, we have included various ideas and resources to promote Connection & Community throughout the newsletter — even the recipe screams "Community!"

As a divorced father without my own place to live, connection and community was especially difficult for me. By using many of these ideas in this newsletter, I felt more connected to my children and, by their responses, so did they.

We hope you enjoy our third edition. If so, please share it with others and provide us with your feedback so that we can continue to improve and bring you value. We would be grateful. If you prefer to contact me directly:

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Featured Service: Ohio CareLine

Featured Article: How to Use Tech to Connect and Avoid It When Together

Delightful Bites: Healthy & Hearty 3 Bean Chili

Nature Escape: Deer Haven Park

Mind & Body: The Connection Between Physical & Mental Health


Ohio CareLine

Mat Hargett

Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) joined with Governor Mike DeWine and RecoveryOhio to launch a new, toll-free CareLine to provide emotional support for Ohio residents who are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ohio residents may call 1-800-720-9616 to connect with trained counselors for 24/7 support. They have been trained to provide free, confidential support for a wide range of needs.

I called and talked about my anxiety due to lack of financial resources. She provided me with a phone number for mental health pro bono resources. But more importantly, they are there for emotional support. I spent 35 minutes on the phone. She was kind, listened willingly, and would have talked as long as I needed. The experience was better than expected, and I highly recommend it.

Have you made use of the Ohio CareLine?

Don’t hesitate! Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.


How to Use Tech to Connect and Avoid It When Together

Mat Hargett

In 2018, global health services company Cigna released results of a national survey "Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America." 46% of US adults reported feeling sometimes or always alone. Another 43% said that their relationships were not meaningful and that they are isolated from others (yet another 43%). And that was before COVID-19.

Using Tech to Connect — A True Innovation

Hopefully, most of you have been utilizing video calls to connect with coworkers, friends, and family. There are many ways to connect: share a coffee, a meal, or better yet prepare the same meal beforehand all while on the video call.

But sometimes, words and visuals are not enough.

I spoke with Andrea Obradors-Puerto an Industrial Designer and Product Engineer from Barcelona, Spain who recently obtained her Master of Design in Integrative Design, Design & Business from the Columbus College of Art & Design:

“We are in the era of connectivity, but we have been more disconnected than ever. COVID-19, for all it’s physical health challenges, highlighted and affirmed what is essential for us - what we truly need as humans - connection.”

Obradors-Puerto applied these insights when investigating ways for staff at Columbus’ homeless youth shelters to share their affection with the homeless youth. Some staff felt they could not adequately support the youth as they have in the past because of the physical distance requirement. To better empathize, consider some of the comments made by the staff:

“My willingness to give back during this time is important to me. I ultimately want to do my part for the youth at Star House. Tangible Value would make this national crisis more bearable."

“I miss hugging the kids.”

Andrea and the team investigated various research projects and found that there is converging evidence suggesting that individuals who engage more frequently in interpersonal touch enjoy better physical, psychological, and relational health.

Her Remote Hugs Project turned into the HUGS APP — a true innovation.

People can easily share a hug in-person by opening the app and simply holding their phone to their heart in a self-hug motion. A remote hug can also be sent via the app. The receiver simply clicks the message and holds the phone to their heart. The best part: the phone vibrates like a heartbeat.

“We wanted to mimic human physical contact as closely as possible to bring this third dimension into the connection,” explains Obradors-Puerto. 

The HUGS APP has impacted my life. Being divorced and not living with my children, I can send and receive hugs anytime. The reaction when my young teenager daughter received her first hug and then shared it with her best friend was priceless.

If you would like to better connect with those you care about, whether 6-feet physically distanced or in another city, I highly encourage you to download the HUGS APP at their website or type “HUGS APP” in your app store search bar.

Avoid Tech to Connect

I almost forgot about this portion of the article! When to avoid technology to connect:

Whenever you do not need to be physically distanced.

Instead, go old-school. Take a hike, play a board game, or snuggle on the couch and watch a movie.


Healthy & Hearty 3 Bean Chili

Mat Hargett

Fall has always been my favorite season. Even when growing up, I would look forward to the colorful leaves, football season, and my mom’s 3 Bean Chili. I can remember coming inside for dinner after playing football with my brothers and friends — a little cold and sometimes wet. The best evenings were when I could smell the fire my dad started and my mom’s chili simmering on the stove as soon as we came inside.

The best part about this recipe is trying various ingredients to make it your own over time like I have. Although a healthy and hearty vegan dish, you could add meat if you like or a cheese topping. Or play with the various “heat” ranges like adding a habanero pepper (my favorite, but too spicy for most). Also, experiment with the sweetener: chocolate, brown sugar, honey, and regular sugar can all be used.

Let me know what you think of the recipe and what changes you have made.

A white bowl full of bean chili topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream

Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped (pick your favorite color)
  • ½ C Dry Red Wine (or red cooking wine)
  • 5–6 (or 15 oz can) Diced Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 can (15 oz) each: Black Beans, Red Kidney Beans, White Northern or Pinto Beans, drained & rinsed
Spice Blend
  • 4 tsp  Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp  Garlic Powder (or brown minced garlic in oil with onion & pepper)
  • 1 tsp  Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp  Oregano
  • 1 tsp  Basil Leaves
  • 2 small rectangles of Hershey’s chocolate bar (or 1 tsp brown sugar or honey)
  • ½ tsp  Salt
  • ½ tsp  Seasoned Pepper

Toppings (optional):

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Chopped Onions
  • Your Favorite Hot Sauce

Recommended Tools:

  • Large saucepan or pot
  • Wooden spoon (for stirring)
  • Ladle (for serving)


  1. Heat oil in the large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion & pepper to the hot oil and cook for 5 minutes while stirring often.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and spice blend. Layer in the ingredients to get a good mix.
  4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 20 min, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve in a bowl and garnish with your favorite toppings.



Deer Haven Park

Yi Han

Deer Haven Park has a special place in my heart because it is home to the bird sanctuary where I started my bird watching journey.

You would never guess how I got into bird watching. It all started with a documentary, not about birds, but the famous Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The documentary is about her life, how she grew up spending time in Canada’s woods, where her entomologist father worked, how she was impacted by the feminist movement that inspired her to create numerous poems and the awarding-winning novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” and also how she devoted herself to bird conservation. She traveled to many countries chasing after all kinds of exotic birds. Just from those few clips of birds in that documentary, I was hooked. I never imagined that birds could be so colorful and fascinating.

Amy Clark-Bader Bird Sanctuary at Deer Haven Park offered me my first wonderful bird watching experience. There are bird feeders, nesting boxes, and even chimney swift towers. Through the magical lenses of my binoculars, I saw a whole new world.  The brilliant red Northern Cardinals with its black mask and throat that always catches your eye amid the green leaves. The Blue Jay with its exquisite pattern of blue and white feathers reminding me of the decorations on Chinese blue and white porcelain. The Red-bellied Woodpecker with its striking striped back and gleaming red cap make them a stunning sight. These are just a small number of the birds I saw along the trail. Even though these are fairly common birds around Ohio, this was the first time I really took notice. I never tried to hear their songs or watch how they are peeking, tweeting, and darting off.

Bird watching allowed me to practice gratitude to appreciate the small things in life that are always so easily missed. Especially during the new normal, finding the small joys and being thankful for what we have right now is fundamental to our emotional and mental health.

looking over an algae covered lake surrounded by trees

If you have never been to Deer Haven Park, please go and take a look. You will fall in love with this wonderful park. Deer Haven is located north of Columbus with 3 miles of trials. It offers a variety of educational opportunities for kids including knowledge about pollinator garden, wetland, and prairie.

If you are already a fan of this park, why not go back and explore it again? Be mindful of the nature around you and try to find your own small joy.

An open wooden shelter in the forest made to watch wildlife
A deer and a fawn in the woods looking directly at the camera
A close up photo of a blue bird in a tree
A structure in a prairie field holding many white bird houses


The Connection Between Physical & Mental Health

Mat Hargett

Someone asked me "What's the connection between our mind and our body?" Look no further than your primary care physician's checklist that you have likely completed. No longer does it ask for your (and your family's) physical health/illness history, but also your emotional and mental health history as well.

The reason: they are interconnected. There is a "strong, positive correlation between increase in physical activity and increase in mental wellbeing."1

The World Health Organization (WHO) goes further and defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."2

So in this edition, we will put it all together: Mind, Body, and Social/Relationship Health through a personal example.

I hated running — HATED IT. And I played college basketball. But after marrying a runner, I acquiesced. I ran no more than 3 miles for decades. An occasional 4-mile road race was my marathon.

Then after depression and anxiety set-in, I realized that running harder and longer distances helped me feel better:

  • Just getting out of bed & outside
  • The positive, endorphin rush that comes with an intense workout
  • My mind was somehow calmer
  • The simple sense of accomplishment helped fuel positive thoughts about myself

Though even with these short-term benefits, it can be difficult to self-motivate and maintain a consistent schedule by yourself over a long period of time. I recommend connecting with a partner for at least one of your weekly workout routines.

Personally, I stumbled across a running partner about 8 months ago. Eventually, two more runners joined us. Not only do we motivate each other, but have formed connections and friendships that I otherwise would not have had.

Fast forward to today, by the time you read this article, I will have run a 28-mile race. That's right, 1.8 miles longer than a marathon. That never would have occurred without connecting with my running partner. I am now in the best physical, emotional, and social "shape" of my life.

Regardless of what you do for your physical health, connect with someone — meet at Deer Haven Park. Your mind and body will thank you.

Two running friends with supporters after they ran 28 miles
two friends standing by a lake after a 28 mile run

Mat and his running partner with supporters and friends after their 28-mile race

1 Harris, Marc Ashley (2018 Jan 16). The relationship between physical inactivity and mental wellbeing: Findings from a gamification-based community-wide physical activity intervention.

2 World Health Organization (WHO) (2020). Constitution of WHO: Principles. Accessed Oct 26. 2020.

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Our mission is to bridge the gap between mental health resources and those who need them and to connect with and amplify the existing voices that are trying to reach and help our local communities.

Contributers: David Amaya, Ann Flaherty, Yi Han, Mat Hargett, Peter Hoover, Dion Utt

Email template design by Sasha Bohn

Organized in collaboration with Can’t Stop Columbus


The material presented in is not an attempt to practice medicine or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. The information contained in this site is for the sole purpose of being informative and is not to be considered complete and does not cover all issues related to mental health. To the extent that any information is not provided by Can’t Stop Columbus, the views expressed are those of the author only. This information should not replace consultation with your doctor or other qualified mental health providers and/or specialists. If you believe you or another individual is suffering a mental health crisis or other medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately, seek medical attention immediately in an emergency room, or call 911.

Copyright © 2020 Columbus Emotional Health, All rights reserved.

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