After years of abuse and trauma, Sharon had withdrawn to the point where she described herself as being “in a cocoon. But POWER helped me sprout into a butterfly.”

RHD POWER is a psychiatric rehabilitation program providing group and individual mobile services to people recovering from serious and persistent mental illness. At POWER, an acronym for Program of Wellness, Empowerment and Recovery, staff supports people as they work to meet self-determined goals. Sharon’s goal was to re-join society and live independently. Today she works as a home health aid, has her own car, and lives on her own.

“I had a mental breakdown and was shutting the world out, closing everything down,” Sharon said. “I didn’t care about anyone or anything. But since I’ve been at POWER I’ve come a long way. I’m a lot happier. I’ve taken the walls down, I can go out by myself, I can do things on my own.

“POWER has helped me a lot. I appreciate the help they’ve given me. I love them here; they’re so wonderful. My life is good now — better than it’s ever been.”

POWER staff provide coaching, psycho-education classes and one-to-one follow-up, including skills training in communication, socialization problem-solving, stress management and decision making. POWER also conducts group and individual sessions on Illness Management and Recovery, as well as assistance in the development of Wellness Recovery and Action Plans, and Psychiatric Advance Directives.

Referrals are accepted from all resources — including self-referrals. Steven heard about POWER from his sister, who was receiving services there (“she was really big on POWER,” he said). In turn, Steven has recommended POWER to his neighbor.

“I needed socialization,” Steven said. “I wasn’t working, I was anti-social. I love the staff here. The best part is the socialization. They’re friendly, and they’re welcoming. You can see them when you need to, it’s not like you have to make an appointment in a month. If you need something, you always have somebody. The staff is good people. They look out for me.”

Steven now has a job at a local supermarket, volunteers in the community and participates in art classes at POWER.

POWER has expanded services to include a COMPASS Mobile Medication Program, which provides mobile medication services.

“When people find managing their medications to be challenging, this can lead to increased symptoms, mental health crisis and hospitalization,” said POWER Director Courtney Uhl. “COMPASS combines recovery principles, wellness coaching, psychiatric rehabilitation skill development and medication education.”

While the program is still in its infancy, indivduals have seen a decrease in hospitalizations and reported more success in managing symptoms, decreasing the use of emergency crisis services and increasing involvement in their community.

“We work to meet people where they are, to help them do what they want to do, and reach their goals — whatever those goals are,” Uhl said. “For example, we often see people who want to work, but have never worked or have been out of the workforce for a long time, so that becomes the focus. We get people back into their communities, living as independently as possible.”

For Lori, that meant support in obtaining medical assistance to increase her independence. Lori had hearing loss and restricted mobility, but with support from POWER staff she has a walker and hearing aids.

“I have a 14-year-old son, and he had to keep repeating himself because I couldn’t hear him, and he’d get frustrated — but I can hear him now,” Lori said. “The staff at POWER is very helpful, and I’m grateful to them. They help people get what they need. At POWER, you can set goals and then work to achieve those goals.”