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CSB of Middle Georgia offering new mental health program

Community Service Board of Middle Georgia is no stranger to offering a helping hand to those in need. The organization has several successful programs targeted at different niches, and come early next year, a full effort will be underway to promote the newest in the slate. CSB’s Amy Johnson and two of her colleagues stopped by The Chronicle last week for a sitdown and explained the goal of the latest venture, the M.O.S.A.I.C. program.

According to the trio, the undertaking helps young adults living with mental health disorders, equipping them with skills, resources, and tools that will be beneficial as they transition into adulthood in hopes of achieving goals, enhancing independence, and living life to the fullest.

Specifically, the new program is open to those ages 16- to 30-years-old. (New funding upped the age cap from 26.)

“It’s a great program,” Johnson said. “It’s completely peer-led. We do group study every day to teach different life skills. We’ve seen our peers who attend learn how to get along better with others, learn how to communicate effectively, learn to work as a team, and even have improved self-confidence.”

Ideally, through these lessons, the peers will go on to either finish high school or obtain their GED. Additionally, program utilizers will get their driver’s license, land a job, and see what’s out there waiting for them in life.

“The whole idea is to show them whether you’re 16 and make a bad mistake or if you’re 50 and you make a bad mistake—even though this particular program caps at 30—it’s never too late to get back on the right track, grow and learn from that mistake, and go on to live a successful, happy life,” Johnson continued. “We want these peers to realize their potential. We want them to see beyond right now, beyond coming to the program every day. This program shows them they can get a job, make some money, have a career.”

A brochure provided by CSB last week outlines the services specifically offered by M.O.S.A.I.C. (an acronym for Mentoring Optimism, Self-Advocacy, and Interpersonal Cultivation). These are as follows: suicide prevention education, therapy, community-based services, social and interpersonal skill-building, transportation assistance, peer support groups, educational linkage, job skills training, family advocacy and family skill-building, in-home case management, resources and referral services, volunteer opportunities, culturally diverse activities, and supportive employment.

The program is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is housed for now in CSB’s Swainsboro facility on Highway 56 North.

While all of those may seem like a tough task to pull off in such a short window, Johnson and her colleagues contend it’s doable and proven effective. For starters, M.O.S.A.I.C. is modeled after two successful emerging adults programs already offered by CSB of Middle Georgia, The Den in Laurens County and The Hub in Telfair County. Beyond that, the implementation of the lessons are strengthened by positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS).

“When the peers do something well, we reward them,” Johnson explained. “We make it a point to take them out to eat twice a week. We’ve arranged for some really cool experiences they might not otherwise have, like college tours at Georgia Southern and going to basketball games… But these privileges can be taken away, too, if they’re not earned.”

This steadily gives back to the program in that removal of privileges, in turn, teaches accountability.

Johnson went on to tell about how the PBIS and peer-led methodologies are clearly beneficial.

“We took a group to Middle Georgia State University over in Cochran not too long ago. Someone in our group who thought he wanted to be a paramedic, but on that trip, he learned that MGSU offers an aviation program. He has since changed his mind about his future career and is planning to become a pilot.”

These one-on-one interactions make it easy to see the program’s success as its leaders can really tell who’s thriving and who needs a little extra help at any given time.

She went on to tell another story about an interaction among the group that took place during a food preparation activity. During this particular activity, one attendee was asked to lead her fellow peers in creating a dish. She chose an oriental meal, and most in the group were displeased. However, with the guidance of those in charge, it became a teaching moment. Once the rest in the group were able to get in on the hands-on action in preparing fried rice and the accompanying meats in the wok, they, too, saw the fun in the activity the leader chose, and all was well in the end.

While M.O.S.A.I.C. is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 30, the program is primarily attended by individuals 18 and up with the concentration of attendees’ ages currently being in the mid-20s. Transportation is provided from their homes to the program, and the same is true for those who need to be picked up after school and taken to the facility.

If someone enters the program and needs CSB’s services beyond the age cap for the M.O.S.A.I.C. program, he or she can then transition into a similar initiative, the M.O.N.A.R.C.H. program.

The newest program is funded through state grants, although according to a handbook left by CSB last week, the organization offers billing to insurance as well in cases that qualify.

Following a merger a few years ago with Ogeechee Behavioral Health, CSB of Middle Georgia now spans 17 counties from Pulaski to Screven, including Emanuel. Its home base, however, is in Dublin.

M.O.S.A.I.C. currently has approximately 15 peers in Dublin and another 10 in McRae, all of whom will visit the Swainsboro peers occasionally.

“CSB is really proud to offer this program for emerging adults in the Emanuel County area,” Johnson said. “This isn’t our first go at this. We’ve got a proven track record and a clear goal, which is to assist these young adults as they move smoothly into the next phase of their lives, no matter what mental challenges they have. The foundation they build through the program helps that happen.”

In the future, CSB of Middle Georgia will be working to promote and communicate to others what the M.O.S.A.I.C.’s purpose. Additionally, Johnson and her team will be trying to establish community partners. Specifically, they hope to network with local schools, the Department of Family and Children Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and, eventually, various local law enforcement agencies.

“We’re hoping to really hit the streets for promotional purposes in the first few weeks of the new year. We’ll have a Facebook page rolling out soon as well,” Johnson said in conclusion.

If you’re interested in more information, be it to potentially use the M.O.S.A.I.C. program or to partner with it, you can call the main phone line at 478-272-1190; email Johnson at; or call 478-289-2619.

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