The Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) was recently a beehive of activity during the Healthy Habits Wellness Fair presented by Jamestown Community College (JCC) Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students.During the fall semester Jessica Bruns, Beverly Hallquist, Jennifer Hochmuth, and Kirstie Surrena had eight-week Level I fieldwork placements at the MHA. Working with OTA Program Interim Director Sarah Tranum, Senior Project Manager Michael Nordin suggested they make the health fair their group project.
These students worked together to decide what topics would be displayed at each station, the layout of the fair, and the placement of stations. They also helped plan the food choices that would be available to the participants. During the fair, they worked as greeters, setup the food, and helped participants and classmates. All 22 students in the Community Based Practice class took part.
Information and activities were geared toward all aspects of daily life. The Wellness Fair covered stress management, sleep, meditation, nutrition and meal planning, education, career, resume and interviewing, social participation, leisure activities, exercise, budgeting and money management, and community resources.
More than 60 participants interacted with the students at different stations. As an example, the Social Participation station used Conversation Jenga to develop social skills and help promote social interaction and self-expression; this game can also assist with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Another great table showed individuals how to tie a suit tie.
Healthy food provided at the 11 a.m.-1 p.m. event was purchased through donations by the MHA and the JCC OTA program along with potluck dishes brought in by some of the OTA students. Drinks were supplied by the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency.
The program was made possible by an Appalachian Regional Commission grant. The grant’s purpose was to develop a community-based teaching clinic that would enhance the work skills of the OTA students while providing services to MHA participants.
The Wellness Fair was free and open to all.
The Mental Health Association is staffed by certified peer specialists that offer recovery coaching. They work in collaboration with local treatment providers, other non-profits, and treatment courts to help participants succeed in attaining their goals.
More than two dozen peer support groups meet weekly at the MHA, where participants can talk with others across a wide range of concerns, from PTSD to Mindfulness and much more. All services and programs are free of charge.
The Mental Health Association is located in the rear of the Gateway Center, 31 Water Street, Door #14, Jamestown, N.Y. To learn more about the MHA and its many programs, call (716) 661-9044 or visit mhachautauqua.org or facebook.com/MHAChautauqua.