Point After Club recently hosted their second National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Peer-to-Peer education program at the Clubhouse, which was facilitated by Clubhouse Counselor Melissa Rahi and Clubhouse Administrative Assistant Erika Katz. The course proved to be both beneficial and foster a deeper connection between participants.
NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer is an eight-week program for adults with mental health conditions who are interested in learning more about themselves and their journey of recovery. Activities, discussions, videos, and educational components are intertwined throughout the weeks and facilitators invite each person to dive into learning more about their specific needs. The goal is for people to feel empowered as self-advocates. “The power of this is really fulfilling the idea that people can be an active participant in their care, their recovery, and how to move forward,” Erika shared.
Topics explored and discussed throughout the program included an introduction on mental health and recovery, the connection between the brain and the body and why physical activity is crucial with wellness, the importance of telling your story and finding your voice, how to build communication skills, the ability to recognize and develop support networks, how to cope with stress, the exploration of one’s strengths, and nurturing a sense of hope for all. “One of the things we got the best feedback on was that there was something for everyone there,” Erika explained. “They really enjoyed all the breathing exercises toward the end where they got to relax,” Melissa added.
Both Melissa and Erika began the process of being NAMI Peer-to-Peer facilitators after their interests were sparked upon the completion of the first eight-week session, which was held by NAMI Massachusetts’ Director of Peer Support Programs Judi Maguire at Point After Club from February to April. Both staff members took the class together along with members from Point After Club and from Haverhill Clubhouse. After completing the program, Melissa and Erika decided to dedicate their time to attending the two-day facilitator training offered by NAMI. “The primary focus was on group dynamics, learning about NAMI and what the goal of the class was, as well as what boundaries were good with it, and learning the materials more in depth,” Erika commented. Their hopes to facilitate the next Peer-to-Peer class at Point After Club became a reality in May.
Upon reflection after facilitating NAMI Peer-to-Peer, Melissa and Erika believe in the power of this course and highly recommend it to anyone who is exploring their mental health journey, no matter what stage you are at on your path to wellness. What really stood out to Melissa was the ability to develop deeper connections with one another. “It allows you to get closer and get to know the members more,” Melissa expressed. Erika really enjoyed her time as a facilitator. “For me I was just honestly really excited to bring a program to the Point After Club and keep it going here because the members are really looking to learn more things and to be engaged, and this really fulfilled that for people that participated,” Erika voiced. Both staff members remarked on how valuable it was to have a platform to learn more on each participant’s goals, hopes, and dreams. “This is an invaluable resource to really see that there are people going through the same thing and there are resources available,” Erika added.
Point After Club member Wayne, who was one of the participants, couldn’t agree more about how useful the program was. “I had a good time. I enjoyed it, I learned a lot, and I really got into when they did the brain part,” Wayne described. Point After Club member Barbara also noted, “It impacted me a whole lot because it gave more courage to speak out in public.”
Point After Club hopes to host this rewarding class again in the future and looks forward to welcoming anyone in the community who wants to participate. “It was a great opportunity to bring some empowerment to individuals in terms of their care and recovery,” Erika concluded.