Peer centers host open house for mental illness awareness

"It is really a place for individuals to come who want support, who want a sense of community, who want to have interesting activities, and also want to contribute," said Christine Brown of the Aroostook Mental Health Center.

That's what the Harvest Inn Peer Center is all about. It's a low barrier service open to anyone who identifies as having a mental health problem.

"We operate in a lot of ways like a big family down here, so that really makes it nice to have that sense of community. It's no one person is above anybody else, it's about equality as a group, how can we work together and move towards what our goals are," Kaitee Maynard said.

Maynard manages the peer center, which is run by the Aroostook Mental Health Center and funded through a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. Her main goal is to help those who come to the center achieve theirs.

"It could be vocational goals, it could be housing goals, it could be just something with themselves, education, art, anything like that basically," she said.

The Harvest Inn existed for years as a social club- but became a peer center last year. The change being - it's now run by peers. Dale Patterson is the President.

"Means a lot, it's helped me from where I was," he said.

Laurie Powell is the vice president.

"I like coming here, it's my thing, I like doing it," she said.

The group doesn't just meet at this space- they spend time out in the community as well. They're also working to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness for themselves and for others.

"There are ideas and a general attitude about mental illness. A lot of it is from ignorance. Anyone who has mental illness is a person and can do amazing things," said Brown.

Brown also gives a big thank you to County Ride Transportation- which gets these folks from their homes to the center and back.

AMHC's other peer center is located in Madawaska.