foundation awards ohi $20,000 grant to aid mental illness recovery

By Rich Romero
OHI Resource Developer

OHI, HERMON, Maine – The John T. Gorman Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to OHI to increase recovery for people with mental illness while decreasing isolation through enhancing social integration and opportunities for recreation, and development and maintenance of natural and peer supports.

People with serious and persistent mental illness recover more successfully when they access peer and natural supports, said Rayma Chairell, mental health services team coordinator. Mental illness symptoms often include isolation, social anxiety and difficulty establishing relationships with others. Studies show similar risk factors of social disconnection as with smoking 15 cigarettes a day and twice as dangerous as obesity (as found by a meta-analysis of 148 studies by Brigham Young University). Through this grant, OHI intends to increase the availability of peer supports and develop natural supports for people it supports with mental illness to encourage them to more likely succeed in recovery and become less reliant upon paid services.


“People who have connections with natural and peer supports report increased self-esteem which is important to self-managing mental illness symptoms,” Chairell said. “This grant will allow OHI to provide a service to people to help them meet others in the community with whom they share a connection of recovery.”

“Guided by a trained Peer Support Specialist, people will have opportunities that many of us take for granted, both financially and mentally, such as going for a cup of coffee with a friend or going to a class at the YMCA,” said James Bailey, mental health case management supervisor. “This essential piece of recovery has a very small niche in current MaineCare covered services. This grant will enhance our ability to inspire people to lead meaningful lives.”

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