Program redesign brings mental health activities into the community
The pandemic is causing severe isolation for individuals in our community, particularly individuals living with severe and persistent mental illness. Avivo’s Community Support Program adapted quickly and transformed services to bring support right where participants live!
Avivo has operated a site-based Community Support Program (CSP) for over 30 years and serves more than 1,100 individuals each year. To switch gears to a community-based approach, service area director EJ Dean paired the staff’s mental health expertise and experience in community organizing with input from CSP members across Hennepin County.
“Activities are offered virtually and in outdoor group settings at various parks and locations.”
“The shift ties the multitude of supports we provide with three program focus areas based on members’ interests and the most highly attended activities historically,” shares Dean. These new focus areas are ArtWorks, FoodWorks, and NatureWorks.
“Activities are offered virtually and in outdoor group settings at various parks and locations,” adds program manager Brenda Lancette. “On any given month, participants might see options for a Zoom class, door-to-door delivery of art supplies, kayaking experiences, art in the park, gardening, or a photography class. We combine culture and diversity in each focus area.”
Avivo’s growing activities offer much-needed connection and support for adults living with mental illness. “These unprecedented times bring loss and CSP provides opportunities for processing,” shares Dean. “We are able to reduce members’ experience of isolation in real time, help de-escalate stressors in the moment, support individuals in finding a place of belonging.”
The CSP is currently developing strong community partners for programming. They recently partnered with COMPAS and engaged over 125 CSP and community members in designing and painting a mural at Avivo’s 1900 Chicago Avenue location. It provided members the chance to express themselves and stand in solidarity in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
According to Dean, Avivo led the way in innovation and responsiveness for similar programs in Hennepin County. And the changes Avivo made due to the pandemic helped staff safely serve members in person while also prioritize serving individuals facing multiple barriers to necessary supports.
“I love that we are able to attack the disparities people face,” adds Lancette. “We are being creative, delivering unique programs to unique people, and empowering one another through life.”
Learn more about Avivo’s Community Support Program and discover a list of upcoming activities.