It goes without saying that the pandemic has been a time of unprecedented isolation and disconnection in our communities, work-places, and even homes. Turning inward has left many more lonely and hopeless than ever before. Nevertheless, moving forward provides opportunities to reforge relationships with those around us and, in doing so, gain a stronger sense of support and connection. As the world emerges from this time of separation, we should consider how we can begin to reconnect with our communities.
The Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ was created to provide evidence-based, holistic mental health education and a framework for community outreach. Through an 8-part series meeting one time a week, this program encourages community engagement and fosters relationships centered around recovery. This is accomplished by facilitated group discussion that encourages healthy dialogue about group members’ experiences with depression and anxiety. Certified group facilitators also use practical activities to illustrate how the principles of the program can be applied in participants’ lives. Below are 7 benefits your community can experience by running a community-based Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™:
Often when people are isolated from others either physically or emotionally, their internal struggles can begin to seem unique and novel, fostering feelings of being misunderstood and helplessness. This can lead to a compounding of depression and anxiety as isolation starves a person of meaningful social interaction. By initiating a community program that meets regularly, you can create a safe place for isolated individuals to connect with others. The program provides an opportunity for individuals to share their struggles, gain new perspectives, and develop a network of support that keeps them engaged with the community.
2. Improved Emotional Intelligence and Social Skills
Establishing a network of support that provides the opportunity to engage with others, through both giving and receiving feedback, can prove vital to the development of emotional intelligence and finding recovery from depression and anxiety. The program has been shown to help participants increase their emotional intelligence. Analysis of the results of the program show that, “Improved emotional intelligence brings immediate benefits to emotional health, relationships, work, and the quality of life. Those with high emotional intelligence are able to manage their emotions and better understand emotions in others.”[i] By virtue of developing and increasing emotional intelligence, people can not only begin to find their way out of feeling misunderstood and helpless but also start down the path to recovery from depression and anxiety.
3. Life Transforming Health Education
Often, people take health education for granted today because healthy living seems to be discussed everywhere. However, there are still many members in our communities who have not been given the opportunity to receive holistic health education that connects mind and body. Offering a program that addresses mental and physical wellbeing provides essential and often novel information for many isolated members of our communities. Through a focus on nutrition, exercise, and cognitive and emotional healing, the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ provides a roadmap to better health for the whole person.
4. Group and Personal Accountability
For those struggling with depression and anxiety, everyday tasks can seem monumental and even insurmountable at times. Enacting important lifestyle changes under these circumstances proves near impossible in isolation. Taking advantage of the opportunity to meet with and encourage the same group members each week at the program helps to build positive accountability for the group and individual. While creating group accountability is initially important to help group participants begin applying changes in their lives, establishing personal accountability is what produces long term success on the road to recovery. Communities benefit from group and personal accountability through community members’ stronger sense of responsibility to not only themselves but also those around them.
5. Community Safety
Many of us are familiar with phrases like “it takes a whole village to raise one child” or “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” These expressions communicate an important truth about what it means to live in a community; however, they are often not reflected in our own. Our hyper-individualistic society discourages community reliance which cultivates a culture of cynicism, selfishness, and narcissism. Unfortunately, this means that when people find themselves at their wits end, they often have nowhere to turn. Worse, “minding our own business” creates an environment where predators can wreak havoc in their own homes and in the broader community. Communities that rely on and look out for one another strengthen their defenses against such threats. Providing the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ helps create the ties that keep communities strong and engaged.
6. Crisis Prevention
The Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ led the way in helping to reduce the number of suicides reported in one municipality. The city of Centerville, Utah was able to report a decrease of 38% in the rate of suicide over a period of 4 years (2018-2022). This reduction has been strongly correlated with the work of Centerville Cares and their application of the community-based Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™. Under the direction of the mayor’s initiative on wellness, Centerville Cares was formed to provide positive mental health resources to the Centerville community. Instead of focusing only on treatment, Centerville Cares seeks to provide effective, evidence-based mental health education as a means of prevention. The Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ has been employed twice a year as the cornerstone of Centerville Cares’ community outreach. Through the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™, they have been able to create community accountability and build genuine connections with community members.
7. Happiness and Wholeness
Active community members who choose to become trained to offer the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ complete the circle that all participants are encouraged to fulfill: giving back to the community. Through the experience and application of the program, a person can actualize recovery from depression and anxiety for themselves and become empowered to give back to their community what they have received. This is a recipe for success as each program creates new bonds and provides new hope for individuals to be lifted out of depression and anxiety. Ultimately, building and growing relationships with others that lead to real change provides happiness and wholeness for both parties as each is able to gain a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment.
The results seen in Centerville speak to the need for people to be engaged with their communities, as it could quite literally save lives. Becoming a part of a community support group by attending or offering the community Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program™ in your area improves mental health outcomes for all involved. [ii]