DuBOIS — A local organization is working to give people struggling with mental health issues a safe and non-stigma related environment to be themselves and get well.

“The Cove” is a mental health drop-in center that focuses on providing people a place of resouces and friends while working toward recovery. Its staff and volunteers provide judgement-free resources, friendship and encouragement for “people who feel like giving up.”

The center offers outlets such as arts and crafts and sewing and cooking classes, as well as things like life-skills and anger management courses to help cope with certain struggles, Director Angel Lutcher said.

The Cove’s staff members teach the classes, and also talk about how they have faced similar battles, giving people positive advice on how to work through issues.

Other activities include picnics, themed luncheons and holiday parties — like Easter egg decorating and Christmas and Halloween parties — and trips like the geocaching one coming up this month. Participants can be a part of garden club, painting classes and much more, all with the fellowship of their Cove peers.

The DuBois Cove building has been around since 2010, but the organization itself was started before then, by a woman who had struggled with mental health issues, Lutcher said. At the time, there was a mental health drop-in center in Clearfield, but not in DuBois.

The Cove is associated with Venango Training and Development Center, Inc. — a human service agency that focuses on providing quality programs, services and opportunities to disabled or disadvantaged people, according to its website. The Cove is also funded by Community Connections of DuBois.

Lutcher said there are about 120 active members, and more than 700 applicants. Many people facing mental health struggles suffer in silence — since there tends to be a stigma attached to depression and other mental illnesses — but places like The Cove give them new hope and show them they are not alone.

As many as 120 people can visit The Cove on a weekly basis, Lutcher said.

“We never know what people walk through,” Lutcher said. “There are more people struggling than we are aware of. We tend to judge a book by its cover, instead of getting to the details of why people are the way they are.”

In order to attend the drop-in center, people have to be independent, 18 years old or older, and have a mental health diagnosis.

“The biggest struggle with mental health is socialization,” she said. “They hibernate, and this is a place where they can come and know that even if they’re struggling, they’re safe.”

Since mental health issues can often be associated with drug use or alcoholism, The Cove provides an atmosphere for people that gives them enjoyable things to do, minus the temptation other places might have, such as card games, pool tournaments and computers.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “20 to 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness.”

Mental health and homelessness coexist with one another, so Cove staff provide food that has been donated to them, along with a place for homeless people to be for a day, Lutcher said.

They aim to provide a mellow and anxiety-free environment, offering a “relaxation corner” and a therapy sun lamp, which helps with seasonal depression. The center focuses on different kinds of therapeutic releases, rather than just one, such as light and sound therapy.

The Cove is always looking for more volutneers and people to teach classes, or even other local organizations to partner with, Lutcher said. They have worked with Perry Winkler Art Gallery and Education Center in the past.

For more information, visit The Cove Facebook page or call 814-503-8374.

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