In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we introduce you to Anna.
Anna is learning, working, socializing and managing her mental illness, all with help from JEVS Road 2 Recovery program. Road 2 Recovery assists individuals with serious mental illness by promoting wellness, socialization, independence, community integration and employment.
When Anna first came to Road 2 Recovery in September of 2000, she was very quiet and shy. She would attend group meetings, but did not engage. She felt that her peers didn’t understand her, and she didn’t always understand them when they spoke due to the language barrier. Anna speaks and understands Russian. She came to the United States in 1995 and started learning English when she was 20 years old. She struggles with English, but will not give up trying to learn.
“My goal is to improve my English,” said Anna.
While she initially did not go out into the community, Anna started attending a socialization outing every Tuesday with her Recovery Educator, Alberta, peers from JEVS and participants from Northeast Community Center for Behavioral Health. She now engages in conversation and is even learning how to play cards.
Alberta began working with Anna in November 2015 and ever since then, Anna has made tremendous progress. “We just clicked when I came here,” said Alberta.
For the past year, Anna has been volunteering at Studio 17 Hair Salon. She sweeps the floor, folds the towels and capes, sorts perm rods and curlers, and straightens the magazines. Anna also greets staff and customers as they come and go. Every Friday, Alberta accompanies Anna to the salon, but soon Anna will be going all by herself.
“She’s always looking for more work,” said Alberta. Anna smiled as we talked about her volunteer position at the salon. “It makes me feel good,” said Anna, proudly wearing her Studio 17 t-shirt.
After volunteering on Fridays, Anna returns to Road 2 Recovery to attend the reading comprehension group led by Alberta. And on Tuesday afternoons, Anna attends math class.
“She’s good at math,” said Alberta. “She does it all in her head.”
Anna is taking things “step by step.” She said JEVS has helped her improve her English, get a job, make new friends and feel better.
When asked what her advice would be to others who are struggling with mental illness, she said, “Don’t worry.”