Submitted by the Lopez Island Family Resource Center
Last month, the Lopez Island Family Resource Center launched Open Source Wellness, a new program developed in the Bay Area. Open Source Wellness is based on the premise that community is medicine, and that health is powered by connection. Lopez is the first to host the program in the state of Washington, and the first to offer it in a rural area.
In spite of Lopez Island’s stunning natural beauty and its inhabitants’ friendly nature, it might surprise you to know that LIFRC supports 60 clients coping with mental health issues and even more dealing with chronic health issues. Unfortunately, every year the need for services is greater than available resources, and services are becoming harder to find.
Due to funding loss in 2019, Compass Health had to eliminate a local mental health crisis-support position. Currently there are no regular psychiatry services on island for those without private health insurance.
While the Resource Center’s services have traditionally consisted of connecting clients to mental health resources (such as crisis counseling with local therapists), the organization recognized the need to expand on this important work by adding a preventive component. LIFRC wants to provide community members with skills to support a healthy, stable life, and resilience when challenges arise.
Open Source Wellness gives participants strategies for coping with health challenges and a sense of belonging in our community. The program’s evidence-based outcomes include weight loss, improved blood pressure, increased exercise and fruit/vegetable consumption, increase in social connections, and improvement with anxiety and depression symptoms.
The first cohort of twenty-two Open Source Wellness participants is meeting weekly for 16 weeks to join in mindfulness, movement, a healthy meal, and conversations built on personal sharing. Group members come together to reinforce one another on a journey to health. The program supports both English and Spanish speakers.
Individuals have chosen to take part in the program for a variety of reasons.
“I have been feeling lonely,” one participant said, “and I want more connectedness in my life.”
Another wanted to try something new and get more involved in the community.
“I’m going through a tough time in my life right now,” she said. “This sounded like a nice way to get out of the house and learn more coping skills.” A third participant was looking forward to “being accountable to others and supporting others on their journey.”
The Resource Center hired four Lopezians as coaches, who traveled to Oakland, California to learn how to implement the program, and completed several more months of long-distance training before launching Open Source Wellness in January.
“We hope Open Source Wellness will transform many lives here on Lopez,” said Peer Support Specialist Marjorie Schreurs. “We are a community of people supporting each other in our journey of health and wellbeing. We call it ‘taking your dose of community medicine.’”
For more information about the innovative Open Source Wellness program, visit LIFRC’S website at lifrc.org.