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Wellness in the Woods works to improve rural mental health

As the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center project gets going to help the people of Wadena improve their bodies, there's another initiative in the works to help their minds.

Wellness in the Woods is the brainchild of Jode Freyholtz-London, a Bertha-Hewitt native who has made her career in the field of mental health. She said she designed WITW in part to help rural-dwelling people find the mental health resources they need. Like some other mental health groups, WITW is "consumer-run" -- that is, the organization's governing board is made up entirely of people who themselves have had experience in dealing with a mental illness.

Freyholtz-London said the idea to start WITW came from her dissatisfaction with the way organizations claiming to be dedicated to helping people with mental illnesses in rural Minnesota actually had their administration and events in the Twin Cities.

To help fill that gap, WITW is putting together its first rural wellness conference at Marlowson Event Center in Bertha Sept. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The conference is partnering with Central Lakes College to offer classes not just on mental health but on all aspects of human wellness as a whole, Freyholtz-London said.

For more information on the conference or to register online, those interested are encouraged to contact