Better Eating and Recovery: Addressing Food Insecurity at an urban Community Mental Health Center
1Marydale DeBor JD, Chef Anne Gallagher, Francine Blinten MS, Michael Sernyak MD, Robert Cole MHSA, Steve Olsen and Annie Harper
1Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
This article describes a pilot program to improve diet and nutrition among low-income clients of an urban mental health center, including efforts to transform the overall food delivery system and culture, and the ‘Better Eaters Club’, a recovery oriented, hands-on intervention directly targeting clients with group based and one-on-one nutritional counseling. The article outlines the complexity involved in full-scale transformation of an institutional food delivery system and culture, and describes initial, promising results of the Better Eaters Club and one-on-one nutritional counseling, based on anecdotal reports from participants. This pilot project has laid an important foundation for a transformed food delivery system, and the institutionalization of a cooking and nutrition program designed specifically for low-income people with mental illness, including a finances and budgeting component. Future steps will incorporate more rigorous evaluation mechanisms tracking health indicators, knowledge of nutritional issues, cooking skills, and food security.
ABT, Arts-based Therapy, Schizophrenia in India, arts in mental health, PANSS