Porter-Starke Services is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our community through prevention, treatment, education, and research. Their full continuum of care serves adults, families, adolescents, and children with mental health or substance abuse issues, and treats all clients on individualized plans of care. One of the many ways Porter-Starke Services brings this mission to life is through their InSHAPE program, which aims to help clients address specific needs to live a healthier lifestyle. Wellness Coordinator Kaitlyn Miller has been involved with the InSHAPE program since implementation in 2016 and is a witness to the healthy changes it instills in participants.
“The program was introduced when our agency was selected to be part of an implementation study with Dartmouth University and nine other agencies across the country and has since served 76 clients and counting,” Miller said. “InSHAPE was implemented to address the needs of our adult clients diagnosed with both a serious mental illness and chronic health condition(s) (diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc.). Clients voluntarily participate in the program by meeting regularly with a Health Mentor, who is a certified personal trainer, to work on implementing wellness-based interventions as treatment for their mental illness.”
Clients engage in physical activity, nutrition education, and tobacco-cessation strategies, which not only have demonstrated improvements in health indicators but also serve as coping mechanisms for depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of mental illness.
Participants have lost hundreds of pounds, made lifestyle changes to decrease the need for medications, and learned healthier ways to manage symptoms of their mental illness.
“We partner with local YMCAs to allow our Health Mentors to train and teach clients about utilizing healthy resources for socialization, physical activity for mood management, and independent work on wellness goals,” Miller said. “Clients learn about the mind and body connection, and how managing both physical and mental health as a whole can pave the way to recovery. We celebrate this progress at our bi-annual community-based InSHAPE celebrations, where clients are recognized and able to share in their successes with peers.”
Clients engage in individual appointments and are offered group opportunities to learn skills to improve overall health.
“Health Mentors meet the client where they are on their wellness journey,” Miller said. “Treatment is client-centered and catered to the strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences of each individual. This gives the client more confidence and ownership in their change process towards better health.”
“Through creating a wellness plan, the client sets goals for their physical and mental health and a Health Mentor supports the client in working their way towards their treatment goals, whether it be to improve cooking skills, exercise regularly to manage anxiety or build up the confidence to utilize the YMCA on their own,” Miller continued. “Health Mentors support clients with learning and making lifestyle changes, leading to long term habits. Clients meet individually with a Health Mentor on a weekly basis, though InSHAPE group sessions are also open to all participants, as well as Adult Case Management for clients interested in working on wellness goals.
The InSHAPE program is available to all clients enrolled in or qualified for Community Support Services at Porter-Starke. Clients can be referred through their case manager, therapist, or psychiatrist. With the program’s exceptional health benefits and well-rounded approach, it is no surprise that participation has become highly desirable.
“We currently have a waiting list for the program and hope to continue expanding our team of Health Mentors to meet the needs of clients throughout Porter and Starke counties,” Miller said. “Our partnerships with the following organizations; HealthLinc, Valparaiso Family YMCA, Portage Township YMCA, United Way of Porter County, Porter-Starke Services Foundation, and Porter County Community Foundation make our efforts at enhancing quality of life and health in our clients more possible through community support and grant funding.”