The Mind-Body Connection

    Have you ever considered the mind-body connection? Have you ever noticed how your mental health affects your physical health, or vice versa? The mind and body are often treated separately. But they are indeed connected. 

     “Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Poor mental health has been shown to have negative effects on physical health,” Sue Hillegass, behavioral home health coordinator and community integration specialist, said. Hillegass has worked for Aroostook Mental Health Center for three years. She has observed the physical impact on people who struggle with mental health. “Someone with poor mental health may make unhealthy decisions. Which leads to poor physical health. People with mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are more prone to diabetes, heart conditions, sleep issues, cancer and even arthritis.”

The mind-body connection (photo from

     Similar to how the mind affects the body, the body affects the mind. Physical therapy aide Ashley Gwirtz has noted how one’s physical state alters mental well-being. “Physical health has a lot to do with mental health. Mental and physical health work together. When one goes up, the other follows,” Gwirtz said. Gwirtz works for County Physical Therapy in Madawaska. She has also had experience working in the mental health field. “When someone is struggling with physical health, the most common mental health symptoms I see are low self-esteem, lack of communication and low energy.” 

The Intriguing Story of ‘All the President’s Men’

     Have you ever seen journalists in action? Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a good news story? Well, I have a movie for you! “All the President’s Men” is the true story of two journalists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who worked for The Washington Post. This compelling drama shows how Bernstein and Woodward investigated the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency. The movie was released in 1976 and is based on the 1974 book written by the two journalists. 

     The movie begins with a botched burglary in Washington, D.C. It takes place at the Democratic National Committee headquarters within the Watergate complex. Woodward is assigned to cover the story at the local courthouse. He eventually learns that the burglars have ties to the CIA and are connected to the Nixon administration. Bernstein is assigned to cover the story alongside Woodward. They are a bit reluctant to be partners, but they work well with each other. Ben Bradlee, executive editor of The Washington Post, finds that their work is lacking reputable sources. Bradlee encourages the two journalists to further their investigation. He puts much faith in them to continue tracking the story. A story that no other journalists are following.

Breaking the Mental Health Stigma

     May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A time to raise awareness of mental illness and its impact on wellbeing. It was established in 1949 as an approach to fight stigma, educate the public and provide support. Services for mental health have vastly improved over the years. However, the stigma remains strong.

May is dedicated to raising mental health awareness.

     Julie Clavette and Sue Hillegass, employees of Aroostook Mental Health Center, have been working on breaking the mental health stigma. “I chose to work in mental health because of its familiarity,” Clavette said. “I have grown up in a family that struggles with their own mental wellness. Myself included. I hope to contribute to making mental illness more understood and destigmatized.” 

     “I think that it’s a shame that there is still a lot of stigma around mental health issues,” Hillegass said. “I feel a lot more people would reach out for the support they need. But they don’t for the fear of what others will think about them.” 

Secrets Revealed in ‘Spotlight’

     What does it take for reporters to uncover the truth? You can see first-hand in the Academy Award winning fact-based drama “Spotlight.” The movie recounts the efforts of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team. A team of four journalist who investigated the sexual abuse of children by numerous Roman Catholic priests in Boston. Journalists Robby Robinson, Mike Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer and Matt Carroll make up the Spotlight team. They show much courage and perseverance as they pursue the story. They face many obstacles. But their determination and drive ultimately reveal secrets that have been hidden for decades. 

     The movie opens with a scene based in 1976 at a police station in Boston. A mother is persuaded not to press charges against a priest, Father John Geoghan, for child molestation. The police are told not to talk about the incident. Geoghan is released and sent to another assignment, where he allegedly continued with the abuse.

     In 2001, a new editor-in-chief of The Boston Globe, Marty Baron, instructs the Spotlight team to pursue the child molestation story. Initially, they believed it was just a story of one priest. But soon they discover a pattern of sexual abuse by other Catholic priests. With their research, they develop a list of 87 names. All priests who likely molested children in the Boston area. 

The Incredible World of Pulitzer Photographs

     Have you ever heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”? That is one simple way to describe the essence of a Pulitzer Prize photograph. The Pulitzer Prize is regarded as the most prestigious award for journalism. A Pulitzer photograph is much more than just a photograph. It’s an image with a voice. An image with emotion. An image of truth. Pulitzer photographs go beyond a standard visual, telling a compelling story. They are rare moments captured in time. Moments of great tragedy and despair. Moments of joy and victory. Moments that will continue to live on through the art of photography. 

     The film “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs” takes a look into the life of several photojournalists. It lets viewers hear from the photojournalists themselves and shows a wide selection of photographs that have won a Pulitzer Prize. One photograph shown was the most recognizable and substantial image of World War II. It was captured by journalist Joe Rosenthal. It’s a small group of U.S. Marines raising an American flag atop a mountain at Iwo Jima in 1945. This photograph resonates a message of hope during battle. “I think the most powerful weapon that we have in the world is a still photograph,” Pulitzer winning photojournalist Eddie Adams said. 

     One of the haunting images shown in the film is a Saigon execution in 1969. A man with a plaid shirt is standing with his hands behind his back. He appears disheveled and somewhat beaten. His eyes are squinted and his mouth is partially opened. There are buildings in the background and soldiers to the left. One soldier is pointing a pistol at the man’s head. “All of a sudden, to my left, somebody came out of nowhere. And I see him go for his pistol. And as soon as he raises his pistol, as soon as he brought it up, I took the picture,” Eddie Adams said. This photo was taken right before the man’s death. The fear and defeat are shown in his face. The horror of knowing it was his last breath. 

     Another horrifying image captured was from a Boston fire in 1976, taken by Stanley Forman. People are falling from the top of a brick building. The fire escape had collapsed. A woman and child are plummeting helplessly in the air with their arms and legs extended from their bodies. “It was a routine rescue. And then all of a sudden, everything went to garbage…. I’m taking pictures and then all of a sudden you hear this crunch and people just started falling,” Stanley Forman said.

     Photojournalist Stan Grossfeld is featured in the film for his photographs on war and famine. One of his photos is of an Ethiopian woman sitting with a child in 1985. The woman has her hands gently placed on the child’s head in comfort. The child is naked, thin and malnourished. “I hope no kid going to this museum ever has to see what I saw. I don’t want to even talk about it. My Pulitzers were won on war and famine,” Stan Grossfeld said. The emotion is apparent in Grossfeld’s voice and face. It is evident that photographing such images is not easy. 

     Not all the photographs in the film had somber images. There were joyful moments captured as well. For instance, a photo taken in Haiti by Carol Guzy in 1995. The photograph is a close-up of a youthful person, taken from only the neck up. The person is looking up with their head tilted back. Their eyes are somewhat squinted in happiness with a gleaming smile across their face. A moment of pure pleasure and delight. A moment that can warm anyone’s heart. “There’s something about the still moment, that moment in time that does touch people,” Carol Guzy said.

     Photojournalism is powerful. It speaks out to the world and stirs an array of emotions. It’s more than just a profession for the journalists. It’s a mission. It’s a passion. It’s a way of life. It takes a strong and compassionate human being to take such heart-wrenching photos. It takes determination. It takes instinct. It takes purpose. “Everyone has a story. And we sing their song. If we don’t do it—if the journalist doesn’t do it—who’s going to do it?” Pulitzer winning photojournalist John White said. Photojournalism keeps those stories alive. A voice that will never be silenced.

UMPI Student Abducted by UFO

     Do you believe in aliens from outer space? New evidence suggests that aliens are indeed among us. Beware because they may be coming after you. William Jenkins, sophomore student at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, claims he witnessed his roommate, Tommy White, being abducted by a UFO. 

     “We were just walking around campus to get some fresh air after a long night of studying,” Jenkins said. “We were looking up at the stars when we noticed a bright light coming down from the sky. All of a sudden, right before us, there was a UFO hovering above the campus.”

UFO abduction of UMPI student.

     Amazingly, Jenkins managed to capture a photo just moments before the abduction. “Tommy just started walking toward the UFO like he was hypnotized or something,” Jenkins said. “I screamed out to him, ‘Tommy, what are you doing? Come back!’ But it was like he couldn’t hear me. He was in some sort of trance. I knew nobody would believe me, so I quickly grabbed my cell phone to take a snapshot. The second after I took the photo, they disappeared. Just like that, both Tommy and the UFO were gone.”

     It’s been several days since Tommy White has vanished. No one on campus has seen or heard from him since Jenkins took the photo. “He hasn’t been back to our dorm room. All of his stuff has remained untouched,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been calling his cell phone every day, but it just keeps going to voicemail. I hope that he’s OK, wherever he is.” 

Beating the Winter Blues

     Do you suffer from the winter blues? Do the shorter days and cold weather bring you down? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with their mental health during the winter months.

     “I believe people struggle more so in the winter due to the decrease in sunlight and less time outdoors,” mental health worker Julie Clavette said. Clavette has worked for Aroostook Mental Health Center for five years, providing support to people in Madawaska. “I find a lot of people, who struggle normally, struggle worse when getting out and socializing is hindered by the weather.”

Julie Clavette and Brittney Beaulieu beating the winter blues.

     There are many signs and symptoms of having the winter blues. The most common signs are depressed mood and lack of energy. But Clavette warns that there are other things to look out for as well. “Some signs and symptoms might be feeling restless, increased agitation, increase in weight, decrease in self-esteem and so on.” 

     As we are entering our third year of the pandemic, the winter blues have become even more common. Brittney Beaulieu, Master of Social Work student intern, has noted how the pandemic is a contributing factor. Beaulieu has been involved in the mental health field for seven years. She has seen first-hand the impact that the pandemic has had on mental health. “With the pandemic cases constantly rising, isolation becomes more prevalent in the winter months,” Beaulieu said. “People are not able to meet outside due to the weather. Having ‘cabin fever’ can cause depression and feelings of loneliness.”

     Both Clavette and Beaulieu agree that staying active is key for beating the winter blues. “I advise people to make the effort to find a fun way to exercise,” Clavette said. “It can be as simple as dusting off your treadmill and taking a walk while you listen to music. Allow yourself a set time where you commit to being productive in the home. Consider picking up a winter hobby. Snowshoeing, ice skating or even puzzle making.”