Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Forest Warren Mental Wellness Association

Name of Innovative Program: 
Forest Warren Mental Wellness Association
Sponsoring Organization
Forest Warren Mental Wellness Association
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Amber D. Sharp
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead: 
asharp@journeyhealth.org
Physical Address of Innovative Program: 
1885 Market Street Warren, PA 16365
Project Description: 

Forest Warren Mental Wellness Association (FWMWA) is a mental health, consumer run organization that provides support services to individuals and families who receive mental health treatment from our affiliated agency, Beacon Light Behavioral Health Services, in rural northwestern Pennsylvania.

Now entering our second year of operations, FWMWA runs four current programs and will be starting another program within weeks. Our first program is our Decision Support Centers, one at the Beacon Light outpatient clinic and one at the local inpatient unit.  Our second program is a drop in center that is open to all members of the community and located on the local state hospital grounds. Our third program provides transportation assistance to individuals and families to local and out of town appointments. Our fourth program is a representative payee program that helps individuals manage their Social Security funds. We will be opening a Fairweather Lodge and consumer business soon.

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health access?: 

FWMWA works closely with other local health care providers. Our transportation program is particularly helpful in assisting individuals and their families in getting reliable transportation to medical appointments, both in and out of town. We are able to take people to specailist appointments as far as three to four hours away that they otherwise would not be able to attend. We also provide transportation to job training, volunteering, community events and consumer run events. 

Through the Decision Support Centers, FWMWA provides peer support and assistance with finding resources in the CommonGround library to assist people in their recovery. Decision Support Center staff communicate with prescribers, case managers and other providers to help individuals get the services they need.

 

How does the innovative program work to improve behavioral health quality? : 

All of our programs focus on providing services that improve and increase individual's access to behavioral health treatment. 

Our Decision Support Center focuses on providing information and peer support to assist individuals in improving their communication with their doctor, as well as assiting them in advocating for themselves in their treatment. This recovery focused program is a shift from the traditional medical model used in health care. 

Our Recovery Assistance transportation program provides rides to therapy appointments, groups, medical appointments, and psychiatric rehabiliation groups that people would otherwise be unable to attend.

Our Drop In Center offers community members as well as individuals from the state hospital a safe and comfortable place to interact and do activites.

The new Fairweather Lodge program will offer offer safe housing and skills training, as well as trained staff versed in case management and peer support.

How does the innovative program work to address behavioral health costs? : 

All of the services FWMWA provides to individuals are free of cost. We are proud that we are able to work with other funding sources so that the individuals we serve will not have to pay for our services. At this time, we are entirely funded by our county governments and managed health care organziations.

Creativity and Innovation: 

As a consumer run company,  the FWMWA board of directors includes people in recovery and people in recovery are employed for the Decision Support Center program as well as the Recovery Assistance program. We get input, direction and ideas from our Consumer Advisory Board. 

Our Recovery Assistance program is unique to our counties. Living in a rural area with limited bus routes, this program provides the opportunity for individuals to get transportation to appointments, free of cost. This program is funded entirely by Forest and Warren county and employs four part time drivers who are people in recovery. 

FWMWA was the first site in the nation to have an outpatient and inpatient Decision Support Center. With two locations, individuals experiene continuity of care as they are release from the hospital and follow up at teh outpatient clinic. It also allows for individuals to access resources they would otherwise not have.

Leadership: 

The Executive Director of FWMWA providers leadership and management to all operating programs. The Executive Director works closely with our affiliated companies, Beacon Light and Journey Health. The Executive Director participates in a local leadership program, which allows for networking and educating different individuals in the community and non-health care fields to learn about FWMWA services. The Executive Director also participates in the local Let's Talk About It group which hosts community events to increase awareness of mental health issues. 

Sustainability: 

FWMWA works closely with other service providing agencies in the community. We have a collaborative relationship with our affiliated companies, Beacon Light Behavioral Health and Deerfield, as well as a local community organization, Let's Talk About It, that is focused on talking about mental health issues and expanding knowledge of support services available in the community. While only in our second year, we are building relationships within in the community through hosting our annual Recovery by the Crick event and attending other community events to provide information and resources to the community. 

FWMWA recieve support and direction from our local Consumer Advisory Board as well as our local human services department. We have been featured in our local newspaper at least four times and have recieved community support for our programs and events. 

Replicability: 

The keys to replicating FWMWA include having community support and funding, as well as having community and consumer support and interest. In our counties, providing mental health services is an area of focus. This allows for our programs to recieve support and funding that allows us to provide services free of cost. Having a local government that supports mental health and wants to encourage mental wellness is a must. 

It is just as vital to have a community support, including people in recovery from mental illness who want to be involved improving the services provided for people in recovery. These individuals provide the ideas and direction that make companies like FWMWA possible.

Results/Outcomes: 

Since January 2015, FWMWA will be opening a new program this year. We were asked to facilitate a Fairweather Lodge program, providing interpersonal skills, job skills, and life skills training. Being asked to start a new program in our second year of operation shows us that our community supports us and trusts us to provide more intensive services to people in recovery. 

Our Recovery Assistance program started out with two program vans. A third van was added in the summer of 2015 due to the increase in demand.

Our inpatient Decision Support Center has assisted in improving continuity of care and provided invaluable resources to people receiving services. Peer staff are now on site on a daily basis, instead of twice a week as when the program started. 

FWMWA hosted two community events in the first year, a health care focusing on using Personal Medicine and a consumer art show.

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