Jackson Conaway, the Founder & President of HELP Foundation, facilitates a weekly support group, informally called “The Coffee Club”.
The meetings are guided by the principles of positive psychology (as defined by Martin Seligman), emphasizing positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment as the essentials elements of mental and emotional health. Focusing on each participant’s unique strengths and talents, Jackson employs his own technique based on the “Five Pillars of Wellbeing” (nutrition, exercise, community, spirituality, and productivity) as the cornerstones necessary to achieve emotional, spiritual and physical wellness.
The group participants meet together to discuss their experiences, share ideas, and provide emotional support for one another in a positive, kind and caring atmosphere. The members of the group who are experiencing similar challenges can support each other and suggest new ways of dealing with common issues. Sharing the realization that no one is alone in their struggles and that there are other people who have the same problems is one of the biggest advantages of participating in the weekly “Coffee Club” meetings.
Participants come together to talk about coping strategies, to feel more empowered and to develop new friendships and a sense of community. “The Coffee Club” is especially suited for social issues, because participation is a safe, supportive social experience in itself. While interacting with others, everybody in the group learns more about how they come across in social situations. For example, they might get direct feedback on how they're sometimes too quick to focus on the negative. They may feel irritated by another participant, before realizing they do some of the same things themselves.
The group is also a great place to renew one’s hope, because it gives the opportunity to see that other people have been in the same situation, are working through it, or have already successfully dealt with the same issues. When you see firsthand that others share your struggles and that you're not alone, you tend to feel less isolated and judged. Talking openly and honestly about your feelings and challenges in a supportive environment helps gain a sense of adjustment, improve coping skills, and reduce stress, depression and anxiety. “The Coffee Club” also provides the opportunity to help other people (including peer support and mentoring), which can raise a person's self-esteem and teach new ways of interacting with others.
An important aspect of “The Coffee Club” is social integration and interaction with members of the local community. Meeting every week at a bustling neighborhood coffee shop, the participants develop and improve their social skills, ability to relate to others, and gain recognition and acceptance among other patrons. All this furthers HELP Foundation’s goal of building a supportive, inclusive community and erasing the stigma of mental illness.
To that end, “The Coffee Club” is often frequented by Michael Pritchard (one of HELP Foundation’s Directors and an esteemed counselor and motivational speaker), as well as several HELP Foundation volunteers (also known as “the Peets’ regulars” :-), who provide guidance and act as mentors.
“The Coffee Club” meetings are open to anyone who is in need of emotional support for a particular problem like anxiety, addiction, depression, or variety of mental health & medical conditions, and especially for people who may feel isolated or feel that others in their lives don't fully understand the kinds of problems they may be struggling with. Our common goal is seeking emotional support through sharing experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same boat, so you feel less isolated as you make connections with others facing similar challenges.
Transportation, coffee and breakfast pastries for all participants of our Monday “Coffee Club” are provided by HELP Foundation.