When clients spend time in Coleman’s Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), they benefit from more than just counseling as they continue their journey to recovery. Their time in the CSU lays the foundation for learning healthy habits and how to maintain them for the long term. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition.
It’s no secret that physical health can significantly impact mental health. Not getting adequate sleep on a consistent basis can worsen mental health issues. The same is true of exercise. In addition to lowering stress and boosting self-esteem, working out regularly can be another tactic to improve mental health overall. Good nutrition works much the same way. However, many of our clients often struggle with food insecurity. Some may not understand what constitutes a healthy meal. And others may not know how to cook or plan meals. Coleman’s CSU staff covers these areas and more to support this aspect of each client’s recovery.
Ashley Fuller, director of the CSU, recognizes the value of healthy meals to help promote better physical and mental health.
“We started by consulting with a registered nutritionist to develop healthy meal plans,” she explained. “All our meals focus on a balanced plate, which includes fruits, vegetables, a protein, and a grain. Milk is often offered as the dairy item. We incorporate these foods into every meal so that our clients can learn about nutritious choices.”
The kitchen staff is quite adept at handling dietary restrictions, too. According to Fuller, they can put together meals that are gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and accommodating to those with food allergies.
Throughout the day, snacks are always available. In fact, United Way recently awarded a $600 grant to Coleman after participating in its mission to better the community through food and nutrition. United Way agreed that our healthy meal option and snack menu met their criteria for this initiative. As a result, the grant helped pay for nutritious snacks such as granola bars, fresh fruit and veggies, and yogurt.
“Our clients have been very engaged with this piece in terms of snack planning and learning what is good for them and still enjoyable,” Fuller shared. “As an organization, we have witnessed firsthand the impact of this grant and how it has benefited our clients.”
Ultimately, Fuller would like the clients to be actively involved with meal planning and preparation, but the current pandemic has limited that.
“Experience is the best teacher,” she said. “For now, though, our clients can learn by watching the staff do this.”
Once clients return to the community, Coleman case managers collaborate with them to ensure that they have the resources to afford making a healthy meal. This may include helping them to apply for food stamps, introducing them to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, or taking them to grocery shop. Ensuring that this basic need is met means that our clients can focus more on their recovery goals.
“Upon successful treatment at the CSU and with the support of our case managers, it is our hope that we have provided our clients with the seeds to be successful,” Fuller added. “Then, it is up to them to plant and water them.”