Painting Pathways Clubhouse recently celebrated its 14th year as a safe space for people who have mental health concerns. As we begin our 15th year, we are slowly adjusting our course and expanding our role to provide service to more people. At the heart of this, we have changed our mission statement to read, “Painting Pathways Clubhouse empowers adults with mental health concerns by supporting recovery, building community and providing hope.”
Currently, there is approximately a six-month wait for an individual to see a mental health professional in a clinical setting; there is one professional for every 920 people in the county, placing Manitowoc County in the bottom third in the state of Wisconsin. We find this to be unacceptable and we want to leverage our knowledge and expertise to make the situation better. While not explicitly stated, our mission also involves helping to facilitate a continuum of care for mental health needs in Manitowoc County.
An important first step in the continuum of care is to have a place where people can turn, 24/7, for assistance. Thanks to the fine folks at Vagabond Studios, Painting Pathways has this newly designed website. We feel that part of our role is to serve as a clearinghouse of information to help people on their mental health recovery path, wherever they may be.
Another important step is to train our staff and some members in Certified Peer Support (CPS). Who better to help an individual than someone who has lived experience? There is much evidence in support of CPS as an effective strategy to assist individuals. The substance use community has used CPS very effectively and our plan is to do the same with mental health. We have visited a couple of the CPS mental health organizations in Wisconsin to observe and learn from models that work well. We are excited to venture on this path as we know it will bring relief to individuals in need.
When creating a continuum, it is important to identify any gaps. Once those areas are identified, we can work to close those gaps, either on our own, or partnering with other organizations and agencies. For example, Manitowoc County produces the most milk of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. But yet, we believe there is a greater need for rural mental health services. We reached out to the UW Extension and to the Farmer Angel Network in western Wisconsin to try to meet those needs. We will continue to identify needs and reach out to others to assist in creating this continuum.
Another part of our mission is to get on the radar of people who can join us, support us, or benefit from our work. There are too many people who believe that we have something to do with art. We even get art supply catalogs in the mail! I suppose that is what we get for having the word “painting” in our name. Instead, we want to be known as a first stop when people have questions or concerns about their mental wellness or the mental wellness of a loved one. We are Painting Pathways Clubhouse, providers of hope for mental wellness. Spread the word and spread hope.