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Grant provides building renovations for CHEER
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CHEER Mental Health has expanded its lobby and waiting room thanks to a grant from Jarden Consumer Solutions Oster. The lobby has been named after Nelma Justin, someone who has been referred to as the leader of mental health assistance in this area.
“Our lobby was adequate but it got tight,” said CHEER prevention coordinator Bryan Herrin. “With help from Jarden, we were able to expand. Jarden’s grant will also provide nutrition classes where we will provide clients with healthy eating tips. Our new lobby is named in Ms. Nelma’s honor. She has a star in the lobby. Stars are going to be put up around the lobby to honor people who have helped with the place. If Ms. Nelma wasn’t here, CHEER wouldn’t be here.”
Justin’s sister was diagnosed as bi-polar disorder when she was just 17 years old. Justin spent years seeking help for her sister and her half-brother, who was born with Down Syndrome.
Justin’s sister was the first patient of Plateau Mental Health in Cookeville. The sister was in her 30s by this time and had two small children at home.
In December 1971, Plateau Mental Health Center received a grant to establish a satellite center in McMinnville. An office was opened where family and individual counseling and other related services were offered.
As a member of the Tennessee Mental Health Association Board of Directors, Justin promoted a bill passed by the state legislature, requiring community services to be established for the mentally ill.
The new mental health center located in Warren County was named CHEER, an acronym meaning Care as Christ cares, with Heart and Hands, see with Eyes, hear with Ears, Recognizing the plight of the mentally ill in our community.
The CHEER Mental Health Center building was begun in 1978. The state of Tennessee provided three-fourths of the funds for the project with the community contributing the remaining one-fourth.
Today CHEER Mental Health is a comprehensive mental health center serving the needs of Warren and surrounding counties. The center employees over 40 people and provides services to 4,500 active clients.
The center offers psychiatric evaluation and medication management, medical services of a doctor and nurse practitioner, individual, family and couples and group therapy, a peer support center, substance abuse evaluations and counseling, an in-house pharmacy and provides a food pantry for clients who do not have enough money for groceries.
Case managers follow individuals through their course of treatment and their treatment process.
The center also offers Project BASIC, which is a school-based prevention program to assist children in K-3 to develop self-esteem and provide early intervention for behavioral issues.
CHEER Association is a group of individuals in the community who support efforts of CHEER Mental Health Center.
The center has a garden named the Willie L. Johnson Victory Garden. Johnson served on the board at the time of his death. Clients are given a row in the garden to grow the food of their choice.
“He always wanted people to have food so they can have a row to grow vegetables,” said Justin.
CHEER Mental Health is located at 120 Omni Drive and can be reached at 473-9649.