Coming September 24th, the opening of Sean’s House! We are moving full steam ahead on the construction of the house in preparation for the fall. We have been in the demo phase, and thanks to our AMAZING volunteers will be ready for our contractors to begin in July. The exterior of the house received a fresh coat of paint this month and some much needed TLC! As we get closer to the opening, we will need help with landscaping, plastering, spackling, and assembling furniture. If you have the time or resources to help, we would love to have you help make Sean’s House a reality. Please email email@example.com! This would be an excellent opportunity for any student who needs community service hours!
We are so excited to introduce PEER24! Our mission is to recruit & train volunteer peer support specialists who will connect with adolescents and young adults in Newark, Delaware. A Peer Specialist is an individual with lived recovery experience with mental health or substance use issues who has trained to help their peers gain hope and move forward in their recovery.
Peer support builds upon the foundation of trust and compatibility. They provide non-clinical, strengths-‐based support, and are “experientially credentialled” by their own recovery journey (Davidson et al., 1999). The peers who will staff Sean‘s House will play an essential role in unlocking students’ lights by providing resources and support for those struggling and seeking help.
Our first Peer Support Training Cohort consists of 30+ University of Delaware students. They have engaged in weekly Zoom discussion sessions to cover topics such as UD’s Mental Health Policy, Student Insurance, Sean Locke’s Story, and COVID-19 Resilience in preparation for the August Mental Health Association (MHA) Peer Support Training!
Most of my role with Sean’s House right now is to find the best ways to make the ideas behind Sean’s House a reality in the coming months. Ultimately, I will provide clinical supervision and oversight to Sean’s House as a licensed clinical psychologist. Right now, that means I am working with staff and PEER trainees on developing protocols for how Sean’s House will operate to best meet the needs of anyone who enters. We also want to make sure anyone who needs care beyond what Sean’s House can provide can get connected to those services safely and comfortably. I will be providing training and support to the staff at Sean’s House, including the supervision of clinical psychology Ph.D. Students assisting PEERs at the house. I will also be managing research and evaluation at Sean’s House, which will involve collecting data from many sources to monitor how Sean’s House is working and how we can continuously improve.
My work currently centers around developing specific protocols for Sean’s House, helping us be prepared for its opening in September. This has involved researching what sorts of evidence-based methods and tools might best serve the needs of our community and incorporating them into the vision for Sean’s House. I have also been learning more about peer support models, the PEER24 program, and getting to know the students who will be involved in the project. Sean’s House is a new and innovative idea- so this is really a pilot project. I anticipate it will continue to evolve and grow as we all learn more, especially from the PEERs and those that visit Sean’s House. Their ideas and experiences will really help to enhance and shape our practices for working in our specific community.
I work in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences for the Center for Training, Evaluation, and Community Collaboration (CTECC). You can read more about us and watch a video about what we do on our website: https://www.ctecc.udel.edu/
Our center primarily works with partners to develop, pilot, and evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions or programs in community settings. So, the vision of Sean’s House was a great fit for the type of work that we do. There are many aspects of this particular project that were also appealing to me personally. I have always enjoyed working with teens and young adults as a clinician. I also enjoy collaborating with community partners, and especially see the value in a program like Sean’s House- which is providing not only a needed mental health service in the community, but also actively working to combat the stigma surrounding mental health and promote awareness in the community.
The research is already pouring in about how widespread the effects of COVID-19 have been on mental health throughout the country. It is impacting everyone on some level right now. We, as a community, are experiencing more constant stress, fear, and worry about the future over a long period of time. Things like financial stress and uncertainty about the future, anxiety, and depression stemming from isolation and loneliness, and of course grief and loss without a safe way to hold funerals and memorial services for large groups of people, are widespread. Some may be stuck at home, unable to escape domestic violence or abuse. Even if we feel our struggles are small compared to those of others, they still need to be acknowledged and supported. Things like the changes we will see during the return to campus at UD this fall or being unable to celebrate a birthday or special occasion in a way we would like may seem disappointing and frustrating. The effects of COVID-19 are only going to become more widespread as time goes on, and we will continue to see them long after the pandemic is over.
Programs like Sean’s House are more important than ever- providing a safe space to talk openly about mental health concerns or even just to get support for everyday stress will go a long way in fighting the stigma around mental health and providing support to those who need it. Sean’s House is one small way we can come together and support one another as a community.
The CDC has some great resources to help those struggling with anxiety.
When I have time, I have been trying to take advantage of free online courses and have done some cool online museum tours. I am also working on a counted cross stitch and re-watching The Office for the millionth time.