Mental Wellness

Though there may be exceptions, most people are capable of a wide range of emotions, and for some, bouts of depression and anxiety can be a common hurdle to overcome.

Whether it be cognitive behavioral therapy administered by a trained psychologist in a clinical setting, life coaching and personalized counseling at private practice or a peer-operated support group via a grant-funded organization, area residents have access to a variety of resources to aid in their struggle.

Ned Lindstrom, of the Hilltop Wellness Collaborative, a group of psychologists who work for an independent private practice based in Jamestown, is working on bringing more group therapy and support group outside of institutional settings to area residents.

According to Lindstrom, people who struggle with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, the longer-term dysthymia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and others, respond well to a group-therapy approach that focuses on creative and nontraditional treatments.

“The underlying philosophy of the Hilltop Wellness Collaborative is based on improving quality of life today, and what we can do about it now,” Lindstrom said. “We’ve found that there is a strong environmental factor involved, and we’ve had the best results from therapies that teach skills, such as life coaching and group therapy.”

For more information, call Lindstrom at 490-3820.

According to Jerry Bartone, executive director of Community Concern of WNY, www.communityconcern.org, which is a nonprofit social and human service organization, most support groups can be found in densely populated areas and cities, such as Buffalo and Jamestown.

“Is there enough people to support a support group is the question,” Bartone said.

The answer to that question is yes, according to Rick Huber, executive director Chautauqua County’s Mental Health Association, which is nonprofit peer advocacy center located in downtown Jamestown.

“This is a unique organization because its peer-run, and the people that are employed here have mental health diagnosis, are on medication, or are recovered addicts of some type,” Huber said. “We run recovery focus groups, computer groups, classes, we have a person who teaches music – a lot of what you might call ‘nontraditional’ methods. We don’t do your normal counseling like they would in clinics, so it’s all done from a person whose been there’s point of view.”

Being that the Jamestown Mental Health Association is peer-run, it stands out among other Mental Health Associations, Huber said.

“We’ve been so successful at helping people, and we are the only peer-run Mental Health Association in the state of New York,” Huber said. “We get two grants from the state of New York, from the Office of Mental Health, so there is no fee for anything we do here.”

The Mental Health Association also has a program it calls STRAW, which stands for Southern Tier Recovery Activities Without Walls, where people whose medications or treatments have been working and want to go a step further, are given the tools to find their spark of life, Huber said.

“It’s to get back into school if they need to, or into a job, something along that direction,” Huber said. “Our focus is to help people reintegrate back into society and find out what is there interest is so that they can lead a completely normal life.”

The Mental Health Association’s offices are located at The Gateway Center, 31 Water St., Suite 7, in Jamestown. For more information, call 661-9044, email chautauquamha@gmail.com or search for “Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County” on Facebook.

MENTAL HYGIENE

There are also quite a few options for those who prefer to utilize practices regulated by the Chautauqua County department of Mental Hygiene, which provides outcome based services.

According to Patricia Brinkman, director of community mental hygiene services, the organization assesses the needs within the community and works with a community services board, which is a group of citizens who have an interest in mental health and wellness, to identify priority and to fund those priorities.

“Through the community services board, we fund services where the needs are, up to the limitations of the funding that we have available,” Brinkman said. “The county does provide a number of services, but we also contract with a number of nonprofits in the community to provide those services.

“For county operated services we operate two clinics, one in the north county (Dunkirk) and one in the south (Jamestown),” Brinkman continued. “Those are general clinics that serve individuals with mental health issues as well as chemical dependency issues. The clinics are staffed by counselors, social workers and psychiatrists, all who have a broad range of experience.”

The Chautauqua County Mental Health clinics can be reached at 661-8330 for Jamestown, and 363-3550 for Dunkirk.

OTHER OPTIONS

In addition to the Chautauqua County department of Mental Hygiene clinics, The Resource Center and WCA Hospital also operate clinics. The Resource Center clinics can be reached at: 661-1590 (Jamestown) and 366-7660 (Dunkirk). WCA Hospital’s Outpatient Mental Health Program can be reached at 664-8641.

Although counseling and group therapy may be effective treatments to various mental health issues, there may be times when a crisis occurs, and timely assistance may be crucial to a positive outcome. Hence why residents have access to a 24-hour helpline by calling 724-0461, which can provide phone intervention and if necessary, referrals.

United Way’s 211 phone number program can also be particularly helpful to individuals seeking non-emergency situation information and referrals. The calls are free, and confidential. A call can help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more. For more information, visit 211.org, 211us.org.

United Way itself could also be a helpful resource for area residents. United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, which according to its website, www.uwayscc.org, works to ensure area residents have access to affordable and quality care, can be reached at 483-1561.