On most Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Fifth Street Care Coordination location in Jamestown, you will find a peer group going on. This group started several years ago with a two-year break during COVID-19. My name is Nichole Johnson, and I am a care coordinator that leads the group. The group is open to anyone who receives services from Care Coordination.
Care Coordination is a segment of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene. A care coordinator will work with participants to develop a care plan to assist in achieving their personal goals. These goals will encompass the whole person, including physical, mental, and social health.
My co-workers have an in-house program that addresses having a hobby, which might be on the care plan. Spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health and well-being. Activities that get you out and about can make you feel happier and more relaxed. Most people take this for granted; however, if you are in recovery, your lifestyle and peer group have changed, and a sober peer group is helpful. Sometimes individuals need to take the time to find what makes them happy.
We have had peer-run painting lessons, everything from coloring to working with air-drying clay, jewelry making, and watercolor painting. There are generally anywhere from 3-6 participants. I feel like the small group makes this group effective. We have basic rules like what is said here, should stay here, and if you don’t want to share or do a craft, you can come and have a cup of coffee.
Peer group helps reduce isolation and loneliness over snacks, coffee, and a craft. It is not therapy based. There is no pressure. It is a safe place for an hour out of the day. Each Friday, I have gained an hour to relax with the individuals who come. It is nice to get to know someone and find out their favorite donut, what movie they just watched, or what good book they just read.
To learn more about Care Coordination, contact the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene at 716-661-8850 in Jamestown or 716-363-3550 in Dunkirk.
Nichole Johnson is care coordinator for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.
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