The nonprofit Life of Joy Foundation celebrated its three-year anniversary on September 22. Life of Joy was founded with the mission of taking a holistic approach to mental illness and suicide prevention.
Founder Joy Cortina knows that many factors contribute to a person’s mental health and her nonprofit aims to be a resource in the community for those who are struggling. Between Life of Joy Day, the nonprofit’s band and mental health first aid days, Life of Joy is determined to have an active presence.
“Our whole mission is around fostering this holistic approach and really wanting to help people look at it from this mind, body, spirit perspective and not just your traditional psychiatric approach,” Cortina said.
The nonprofit was founded by Cortina in September 2020 and with the volunteer efforts behind it, Life of Joy got off to a great start.
Part of Cortina’s motivation to start Life of Joy was her own experiences with mental illness and loved ones around her dealing with thoughts of suicide. The experience of both her and her loved ones’ recovery helped her realize how dozens of factors can lead to mental illness and suicide and that they all need to be addressed on the road to recovery. Cortina’s background in holistic care and over 12 years in the wellness industry came together with her personal experiences and gave her the idea of a foundation.
“It was just this vision of taking everything I’d been through, taking my knowledge of holistic health and then also taking my music ministry and weaving that all together for this purpose,” Cortina said. “[It’s important to see] how different everybody’s recovery is and how there’s no one solution to any one given person’s struggle.”
Jennifer Wheeler, a board member of the foundation, is one of the people who has watched Life of Joy grow from a concept to an organization.
“Currently, Life of Joy is aligning with many traditional and nontraditional resources to offer inquirers the options that appeal to them for their mental health treatment,” Wheeler said.
Life of Joy strives to be a community resource for anyone. It holds talks about what the community can do to help, such as a October 12 event where the organization Soul Shop for Communities will lead a program meant to be a bite-sized introduction to suicide awareness. It aims to be a time to discuss how to identify signs of suicide and what a community can do to help those at risk. There will also be another Soul Shop the day after, on October 13, for leaders of ministry. This workshop sets out to train faith leaders in suicide awareness and how to build resources for those at risk in their congregation.
Life of Joy believes it’s necessary that all parts of a person’s life are examined when their mental health is suffering, from professional help to everyday actions.
“I like to put it as everyone has their own unique healing process; the same thing doesn’t always work for everybody,” Cortina said. “It’s almost like a combination code … there’s usually a blend of things that folks need to do in order to really find their ground, and to come out of the darkness, so to speak. And so, I think that’s what this holistic approach is really all about.”
Life of Joy strives to make resources for help known to those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Cortina recommends the Anne Arundel County warmline or dialing 998, which operates through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, if a person needs immediate mental health assistance. For anyone interested in getting involved, the website www.lifeofjoyfoundation.org has more information about events.
“The intention is to meet the person where they are [and] offer them choices of health services for their diagnosis,” Wheeler said. “As Life of Joy Foundation grows, so will our resource hub and so will the opportunity to guide inquirers to the appropriate professional services and treatment plan.”
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