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Ann Arbor YMCA offers 15-week mental health support program

Ann Arbor News - 4/16/2019

April 16-- Apr. 16--ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Accessibility and attention to mental health care are the focus of The Ann Arbor YMCA's new Mood Lifters program.

Mood Lifters help participants set goals and learn strategies to achieve those goals, according to Kit Kieser, Ann Arbor YMCA director of healthy living.

"The program is based on five areas of behavior: sleep, body, mood, mind and social," Kieser, said. "We've seen a very positive response so far from the community and the staff."

Each class begins with a survey for participants to use as a baseline for progress, and a lesson module related to one of the five behavior areas, Keiser said. More than just a support group or a place for people to discuses their feelings, Mood Lifters is about breaking down social and financial barriers and allowing people to improve their mental health, she said.

The 15-week program costs $75 for YMCA members and $200 for non-members 18 years old or older.

"Instead of ruminating about specific problems, you're talking in a group of your peers about strategies to meet your goals," Kieser said.

Course participants may be dealing with stress, anxiety or depression, but Keiser said they do not need to be medically diagnosed to benefit from the program.

Patricia Deldin, founder and CEO of Mood Lifter LLC and associate director of the University of Michigan Depression Center, said she's felt frustrated by a general continued lack of accessibility to mental health care.

Deldin used personal experience with similar programs to design Mood Lifters, she said. The program is simple and realistic for participants to practice in their everyday lives, she said.

Participants earn points for applying the module lessons in their daily lives, partaking in healthy activities and improving sleep habits.

"It's a paradigm shift," Deldin said. "I'm excited to be using science to make changes in destigmatizing mental health care and making it low-cost for everyone."

The class is currently capped at 15 participants, and is not taking new participants, but Keiser and Deldin hope the pilot YMCA program will yield positive data that can be used towards offering it again in the future.

Deldin also hopes to see the program grow nationwide, in other community organizations and online.

To learn more about Mood Lifters, visit the program website or email info@mood-lifters.com. For more information about the program at the Ann Arbor YMCA, contact Kieser at kkieser@annarborymca.org.

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