Community

Nonprofit Project Happiness addressing mental wellness issues


Courtesy of Julie Arnheim
Project Happiness’ current focus, the Virtual Race for Wellness, enables the organization’s significant social media following to participate in an event regardless of location.

Unlike most organizations, Project Happiness aims to put itself out of business. Those behind the mental health-focused nonprofit organization look forward to a day when they are so successful that no one will need their services.

“We hope to put ourselves out of business, so people have the tools to address (mental wellness), but until then we want to provide the programs and tools to keep chipping away at it,” said Los Altos Hills resident Julie Arnheim, director of development for Project Happiness.

Concentrated on training participants to alter their mindsets, Project Happiness encourages a daily act of self-improvement called the “Seven Pillars of Happiness.” For example, Mondays are “Mindful Mondays,” Tuesdays are “Grati-Tuesdays,” Wednesdays are “Wellness Wednesdays,” and so on. Each day, participants are assigned a selection of preventive-wellness activities to create a positive long-term impact on their mental states.

Stress runs rampant not only in adult environments like companies, but also at high schools and colleges, where students often face similar challenges. Such early exposure to negativity can plant seeds for mental illnesses like depression, which has recently been declared by the World Health Organization as “the leading cause of suffering worldwide.” That’s why Arnheim said Project Happiness is working to bring its curriculum and stress-relieving activities to schools.

“Today, (there) is so much pressure on (kids) to succeed and do well,” she said. “Everyone’s got to be busy and build up their resumes. Just bringing these things back to schools is so important.”

Now, thanks to organizations like Project Happiness, victims of mental illness can more easily find communities to relate to. Those with the organization believe in creating a conversation around the topic of mental health to further knowledge and compassion from healthier members of the community, Arnheim noted, as well as support for those suffering from illnesses. Although Project Happiness doesn’t provide a cure or replace therapy, it supplies the tools for preventive wellness, she added.

Project Happiness’ current focus, the Virtual Race for Wellness, enables the organization’s significant social media following to participate in an event regardless of location. Different from its traditional definition, Arnheim said the race is a monthlong team effort in which people across the globe further their physical fitness to advance their mental health. To participate, people must first make a donation to Project Happiness. The next step is to spread the word, then track progress on the organization’s website or the Charity Footprints app. Already, the hashtag #RaceForWellness has garnered nearly 400 posts from around the world. The race runs through Monday and accommodates any schedule.

For more information about the challenge, visit charityfootprints.com/eventdetails?id=215.

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