Seeking to put smiles on people’s faces during a difficult time, the staff at Behavioral Health Partners recently placed 50 “inspirational rocks” in strategic, high-traffic areas around Frederick County.
Each of the small rocks was painted green and contains an uplifting image or message.
“We put them in places like the post office, hiking trails, community parks, places where a lot of people go and have a chance to see them,” said Avi Burstein, the executive director of Behavior Health Partners of Frederick, part of Sheppard Pratt Health System. “We just wanted people to know that someone is thinking of them.”
As the novel coronavirus pandemic has stretched on for months, the toll on mental health has steadily risen.
“People are stressed out. They are struggling through their own thoughts and experiences,” said Dr. Christina Brooks, the owner and director of Anxiety and Behavioral Health Center in Ijamsville.
Brooks specializes in exposure-based cognitive behavior therapy, which seeks to subject patients to a source of anxiety or distress at gradually increasing intervals until the fear subsides or disappears entirely.
There are not a lot of doctors who practice this type of therapy in Frederick County, Brooks said.
“It’s pretty intensive. There are not a lot of people that have training for it,” she said.
Brooks opened her own practice in May. She lives in the Ijamsville area. So, her commute got a lot shorter compared to where she used to work in Rockville. But the pandemic has prevented her from seeing patients face-to-face in her new office inside the Knowledge Farm medical building.
“It means a lot to me to serve in the community that I live,” she said. “I look forward to the day I can have in-office visits with my patients again.”
In the meantime, Brooks has been offering teletherapy service for her patients, as have the professionals at Behavioral Health Partners.
That’s why they felt the “inspirational rocks” initiative would be a great way to engage with the community in a more personal way.
“We want these rocks to have a positive impact in the community over a long period of time,” Burstein said. “The idea is when someone finds one, they pick them up and look at them. But they don’t take them home with them. They put it back where they found it for the next person to see.
“Even if the paint fades away and they become normal, ordinary rocks again, that’s OK. They’ll have served a purpose.”