Aurora, Colorado - Thursday, Second Lady Karen Pence, joined by Deputy Secretary of Interior Katharine MacGregor, visited Rocky Mountain National Park to highlight the mental health benefits of the outdoors and the important work of National Park Service employees as the Nation’s parks reopen. In addition to the park visit, Mrs. Pence visited the art therapy program for veterans at the Marcus Institute for Brain Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Upon arriving to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Mrs. Pence and Deputy Secretary MacGregor received a briefing about the park’s employee health and wellness program. National Park officials shared how they want to grow and develop the park’s strategic wellness and resilience programs. At the end of 2019, the park began an employee health and wellness program that will help give all of their employees tools to talk about issues they are facing, such as stress, and implement a culture of resiliency.

Following the briefing, Mrs. Pence delivered remarks at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center to park employees.  In her remarks, Mrs. Pence talked about the benefits of the outdoors for people’s mental health and thanked the employees for all their hard work in reopening and preserving the park during such difficult times. Research shows that spending quality time in the great outdoors can have positive health benefits, such as reduced stress, lessened anxiety, and lowered risk of depression. Following the remarks, Mrs. Pence and the Deputy Secretary hiked around Sprague Lake.

“As America continues to reopen and people deal with uncertainties and stress, the great outdoors provides many health benefits and fosters people’s physical and mental health,” said Second Lady Karen Pence. “More than ever before, we must make sure to check in with ourselves and loved ones.”

Mrs. Pence then traveled to the Marcus Institute for Brain Health to highlight PTSD Awareness Day, which is Saturday, June 27. To further her art therapy initiative and work as the PREVENTS Lead Ambassador, she led a roundtable discussion with an art therapist, three veterans, and other medical professionals on the Institute’s staff to highlight the significant ways art therapy is helping veterans heal from the invisible wounds of war.

“I am thankful for the Second Lady’s continued commitment to erase the stigma surrounding mental health issues while emphasizing the curative powers of the outdoors,” said Deputy Secretary Kate MacGregor. “As America reopens, we are committed to restoring and expanding access to our nation’s magnificent national parks and public lands and we are happy to welcome back our visitors back for their next big outdoor adventure.”

More on the Marcus Institute: 
The Marcus Institute for Brain Health (MIBH) is a clinical care and research institute for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Psychological Health (PH) conditions such as post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. The primary focus of the MIBH is to care for former military personnel who have separated from active duty.

Mrs. Pence is the Lead Ambassador for PREVENTS, an interagency task force that stands for the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PREVENTS launched a public health awareness campaign called “More Than Ever Before.” This campaign is designed to help people deal with the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic by encouraging them to care for their mental health.