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Pictou County agency offers diverse mental health activities

Natasha Turner has benefited from programs offered by New Hope.
Natasha Turner has benefited from programs offered by New Hope.

The New Hope psychological outpatient rehabilitation program is a godsend for people in Pictou County living with mental illness – and it continues to grow in scope, to keep helping them.

This year, the program has received a windfall of assistance, through funding from the Aberdeen Health Foundation Sandbar Mental Health Endowment. This funding has allowed New Hope to offer a variety of new services in Pictou County.

A media release from Bullrush Communications said new services include programs that focus on art, drama, photography, gardening and mindfulness.

Natasha Turner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2015, has found that one of the best ways to manage her symptoms is to maintain a healthy social life – something New Hope’s program helps her to do.

“New Hope gives me something fulfilling to do. It gives me structure. The activities are fun, active and social,” said Turner, who participates in New Hope’s programming three times a week.

The media release from the Aberdeen Health Foundation emphasized that Turner attends the programs, whether or not she feels like it, because she appreciates the benefits they have for her. Turner also provides support for others when they need it, knowing that interaction – all through those programs – can help when she experiences symptoms of he schizophrenia, like auditory hallucinations.

The programs offered by New Hope are a boon to those who participate, because they take activities that are individualistic – and that can be done in isolation – such as art, and make them social experiences.
“With the gardening program, you get to take care of something and watch it grow. It’s good to get your hands in the social. The drama program takes you to a different place. It’s good for the mind and soul,” said Turner, describing the programs offered by New Hope. “The mindfulness aspect of all the programming has really taught me to be present in the moment. I try to do it daily it really helps me with those times when I’m alone.”

Turner said her participation has helped her break out of a negative spiral associated with her condition – and that her family has seen her making a recovery, noting more outgoing, expressive behaviour.
“It’s like night and day,” said Turner’s mother Edith. “You can see the glimmer of something different. Her humour is back. She is more engaged with conversation. She helps around the house. The old Natasha is starting to break through the concrete.”

In addition to helping participants, programs offered by New Hope are also very helpful to those administrating them.

Terri Cameron, a registered nurse with New Hope, said the programs are “so much more than baking biscuits or planting a garden.”

“You learn so much just watching the clients – how organized are they, are they interacting with others or are they distracted, possibly by hallucinations?” Cameron added.

Each program offers staff a chance to observe and determine a client’s progress, offering “an unfiltered assessment of how the client is doing,” said Cameron. “There are so many layers to what’s happening in the program. Seeing our clients in real life situations translates to better treatment.”

 

 

 

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