The objectives of Maison Wasatch are simple. The Provo organization helps people recover from the effects of mental illness, lead personally fulfilling lives and feel like part of a community. This month, Wasatch Behavioral Health’s annual Wasatch Wellness Run was held to raise money for the program.
“Traditionally, we used that money to pay people who weren’t funded so that anyone who wanted treatment at Wasatch House but couldn’t afford it could get paid. “ said Kathy Barrett, manager of Wasatch House. “Also, some of that money is being used for activities that otherwise our people could never afford. “
Barrett said about 200 people signed up to run, but due to the poor air quality some chose to skip the race but still donated money. “We still had the park full of people. In addition to this race, we organize a family funfair every year with all kinds of activities ”, she said.
A clubhouse program, Wasatch House is an intentional community that helps people with severe and persistent mental illnesses become part of society and lead fulfilling lives. People with major depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, autism and more can have a place they belong – a place where they have people who care about them, where they can complete their education, according to Barrett.
“Mental illness often starts young – between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and it anticipates their education, it anticipates their life, their dreams” she said.
But those dreams can be rekindled at Wasatch House, where members can continue their education and be trained for the job. “People often think that people with serious mental illnesses cannot work. The truth is that when they work their symptoms improve, they have a sense of identity, they don’t hear voices ”, Barrett said.
Members and staff work side by side in four different units at Wasatch House. In the kitchen, they develop their culinary skills, obtain their food handler license and work in a professional kitchen planning menus, ordering, serving and cleaning. “They cook lunch for about 60 people a day with several menu choices,” Barrett said.
Other units include the Career Unit, the Business Unit, and the WAG (Wellness, Apparel, Grounds). In all units, members learn essential professional skills and build relationships with other members and staff. Members often work there until they can find employment in the community or express an interest in outside employment.
“It’s not like it used to be when people were put into group therapy or individual therapy. The evidence tells us that if we work side by side with people, they actually internalize these skills and are able to translate them into their lives ”, Barrett said. “In traditional psychiatric care, the limits are very strict. I wouldn’t want to sit down with the people I treat to talk about my family. But in a club house, that’s exactly what we do. By modeling appropriate behavior, they improve, they stay out of the hospital, they find a job.
Last month Wasatch House served 141 different people. Usually around 44 to 50 people are there each day. “Once a member, always a member” Barrett said. “We do weekend activities with them, a social activity on Tuesday evenings and we are open on all major holidays. We are their community.