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Today marks the National Park Service’s birthday and the historic day when President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 signed the act that created the National Park Service. As we celebrate the 104th birthday of our Nation’s parks, we recognize the significant role America’s great treasures have played in the lives of Americans. From offering places of tranquility, educational opportunities for children, and breathtaking views of nature, National Parks continue to be an important aspect of American life.

As people experience mental health effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Second Lady Karen Pence has traveled to our Nation’s great National Parks to highlight the many mental health benefits the outdoors offers. Mrs. Pence emphasized that studies show getting outside can help reduce stress, lessen anxiety, and lower the risk of depression. Mrs. Pence encouraged Americans to recognize their struggles and to know that it is okay to say you are not okay.  Additionally, she thanked the many National Park employees for their important work in maintaining the parks during the pandemic and applauded their efforts for reopening parks in a safe and responsible way.

Mrs. Pence began her visits to National Parks in May, which is Mental Health
Awareness Month. As the Lead Ambassador for PREVENTS, she used this time
and the months to follow to highlight parks as places of respite. The Second Lady also recognized the importance of checking in with yourself and loved ones. As Americans continue to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Pence recognizes more than ever before that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

The parks Mrs. Pence has visited to highlight mental health:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park
On March 5, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13861, establishing a three-year effort known as the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). PREVENTS recently launched their national health campaign called REACH, which aims to empower all Americans to play a role in preventing suicide. Second Lady Karen Pence serves as the Lead Ambassador. To learn more about PREVENTS, click here.