Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

February 15, 2013

Peer support group raises awareness of mental illness

JACKSONVILLE — Leaders of a peer support group for those with mental illness are hoping to raise awareness about the condition, and assure people that there shouldn't be any stigma attached to this health issue.

Those days are “in the past, because if anybody thinks they can live a life and not come into contact with someone who (isn't affected) of mental health issues, they're fooling themselves, because they can impact anybody at any time, for whatever reason,” said Suzanne Hardin, a peer support specialist with the Cherokee County Peer Support Group based in Jacksonville.

“It's not a brain deficiency,” she said, as her fellow peer specialist Chriss Musick added, “It's a chemical imbalance.”

Hardin nodded. “It's nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.

“In our group, we compare it to someone with diabetes, (how altered blood sugars) can cause problems for someone,” Musick said.

On Thursday, CCPSG hosted an inaugural “Sweet 'Art' Show,” a silent auction featuring artwork by CCPSG clients, staff and supporters. Some 33 pieces – created using paint, pencil, mixed media and photography – were set up in the Jacksonville Public Library meeting room.

 “One of our members of the coalition that's meeting here today came up the idea at a collaborative family health care conference in Austin last year, and it just grew from here,” Musick said, explaining that peer support coordinator Jim Lemon directed the budding artists in constructing frames for their work.

The local peer support group was founded eight years ago, thanks to a state grant for consumer-operated services, Musick said.

Hardin “rose to the occasion, and decided to do it, and I've been right along with her the whole time,” she said.

Each month, an estimated 25-30 clients meet at the Jacksonville center, located at 635 Nacogdoches. While the group is open to anyone from the Cherokee County service area coverage, “we primarily see people from Jacksonville,” Musick said.

Art classes are offered at 10:30 a.m. Mondays, while the support group meets at 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays for a light meal, with peer counseling lasting “as long as it's needed,” Hardin said.

Musick also is a Wellness Recovery Action Plan facilitator, and helps clients develop plans of action for situations as they arise, “like if they have to go back to the hospital, who they would get to take of things,” she said; “it gives a person a regimen (to follow).”

Her colleague added, “it's like a tool box, (with a plan) you adhere to … so in case you get in a bumfuzzled state, you have that toolbox and you know what to do.”

The group is putting together a contract to be placed under the umbrella of ACCESS, the Anderson Cherokee Community Enrich-ment Services, which operates as a health-needs clearing house, but in the meantime, Musick and Hardin hope to give the public a better understanding of mental health issues and the needs that arise from them.

“Mental health issues are going to be around, and this group is a safe haven for people to come in to be with other peers who understand what they are going through,” Hardin said. “There's no judgement, no criticism, it's just family.”

The group helps “get people off the couch and outside the four walls they might be stuck inside, because they're with people they can relate to,” she added.

“Everybody shares their stories, about where they're at today, and then if there's anybody who is having crisis problems, we work with them, and we can help advocate them with the mental health authorities,” she said.

Text Only
Local News
  • UPDATE: County co-op says many customers may not have power until Friday

    July 24, 2014

  • Old Jville Bearden Store.tif Longtime furniture store changes hands

    For the better part of a century, Bearden Furniture Co., Inc., has been the go-to place for local residents wanting to beautify their home.
    Furniture and accessories, carpeting, window treatments – even electronics at one point – were offered at the Commerce Street store, but on July 1, the family who started Bearden's sold the company to Louisiana-based Ivan Smith Furniture company.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Athens woman confesses to killing daughter

    A 25-year-old mother is in the Henderson County Jail after telling authorities that she had killed her four-year-old daughter, Monday

    July 24, 2014

  • Bullard: District names Jan Hill as deputy superintendent

    Bullard Independent School District is proud to announce Jan Hill as Deputy Superinten-dent. Hill will assume the new role effective immediately.

    July 24, 2014

  • ‘Christmas in July’ drive benefits area foster children

    Sure, December is still more than five months away, but Cherokee County residents are getting the chance to start spreading some holiday cheer a little early this year during the annual Christmas in July donation drive, benefitting the county's Rainbow Room.

    July 24, 2014

  • 2014-2015 Jacksonville Leadership Institute opens enrollment

    What is Jacksonville Leadership Institute?
    Jacksonville Leadership Institute is a program through the Jacksonville, Texas Chamber of Commerce. A new class is formed each September.

    July 24, 2014

  • Jacksonville continues its mosquito spraying schedule

    The City of Jacksonville will continue implementing its summer mosquito spraying program next week by spraying areas 7 and 11.

    July 24, 2014

  • RuskProtestMain.tif Rusk protest highlights views concerning border issues

    Several Texans gathered Saturday in Rusk -- not only to protest the recent federally-sponsored flood of illegal immigrants into the U.S., but to demand state officials to do something about it.
    Nearly 20 concerned citizens gathered at the intersection of U.S. highways 69 and 84 Saturday afternoon, waving flags and hand-lettered signs asking for secure borders and better action on the matter.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • RISD board mulls $16M budget

    Local school board members are considering a $16,671,955 proposed general fund budget for Rusk ISD's upcoming fiscal year – which begins Sept. 1 – but are nowhere near close to adopting the budget, said Lesa Jones, assistant district superintendent for finance and operation.

    July 22, 2014

  • National Night Out to return to Jacksonville

    National Night Out ( NNO) festivities will be returning  to Jacksonville this year.
    Jacksonville Police Crime Prevention Officer Detective Tonya Harris said all Jacksonville residents are encouraged to participate this year by sponsoring or attending a National Night Out party on Oct. 7.

    July 22, 2014