Takeaways from It’s Ok to Not Be Ok: Part 4 – Mental and Spiritual Health

Thank you to Our Sponsors - North Shore Pride Community Forum It's Ok to Not Be Ok - Dr. Helena Santos-Martinez and Right at Home In Home Homecare

It’s Ok to Not Be Ok was sponsored by Right at Home In Home Care and Dr. Helena Santos-Martins. Technical support was provided by Creative Collective and interpretive services by Partners Healthcare.

Content Warning: This video and post content may not be suitable for young viewers and readers as it is a frank discussion of healthcare issues within the LGBTQ+ community.

On October 22 we hosted our community forum: It’s Ok to Not Be Ok. The discussion centered on health and health policy for the LGBT community in light of October being health awareness month. Syd Sennett, peer leader for NAGLY and board member of North Shore Pride, moderated the panel.

Important note: this panel is a part of North Shore Pride’s educational mission and any health concerns that you may personally have, you should always go talk with your doctor.


Because a lot of information was discussed during the event, we’ll break it up into four “takeaways” posts in the coming weeks. 

Mental and Spiritual Health Takeaways from It’s Ok to Not Be Ok

How do you maintain good mental health during this pandemic? How do you practice mindfulness? How do you know when to seek help for mental health related challenges?

This segment was led by Dr. Karen Vautour and Myozen Joan Amaral. Karen Vautour started the segment by focusing on the importance of healthy routines during COVID, and how that structure can be beneficial.

“Maintaining good mental health means maintaining a good daily routine: eating, sleeping, exercising, working, playing, having having as much of a well rounded life as you possibly can.” – Dr. Karen Vautour, Clinical Director, North Shore Counseling Center

Next, Myozen Joan Amaral led a small meditation for viewers and panelists to have a moment of mindfulness. Her focus was on recentering and taking small moments for ourselves in the midst of an otherwise anxious and draining time.

“You’re already breathing. But notice your breathing. And can you enjoy the fact of your breathing?” – Myozen Joan Amaral Founder and Guiding Teacher, Zen Center North Shore

This final part of the forum focused on what to do if individuals feel they might be in a mental health crisis, and where they should go for help. Here were some topics suggested:

  • Some warning signs that you might need some help handling mental health challenges include erratic or impulsive behaviors and paranoid thoughts.
  • Don’t let difficulties in finding mental health care (lack of referrals, etc.) keep you from advocating for yourself. If you need help, say so, especially if your challenge is urgent.
  • Engage in self-soothing activities like going for walks, watching your favorite TV programs, or listening to your favorite music.
  • Practice self-care activities like eating healthily (or at least regularly), taking hot showers, and getting enough sleep.

Relevant Links and Articles


It’s Ok to Not Be Ok was sponsored by Right at Home In Home Care and Dr. Helena Santos-Martins. Technical support was provided by Creative Collective and interpretive services by Partners Healthcare.

Panelists Included:

  • Myozen Joan Amaral: 
  • Fonda Feeling: Aerialist and Burlesque Performer and Sex Educator with Good Vibrations, Cambridge and Brookline
  • Adrian Shanker: Editor, Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health and Executive Director Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown, PA
  • Dr. Karen Vautour: Clinical Director, North Shore Counseling Center, Beverly, MA
  • Constantino “Coco” Alinsug, Senior Outreach Manager of Fenway Community Health, Aids Action and the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center
  • Syd Sennett, Board Member, North Shore Pride, Inc. and Peer leader at NAGLY


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