FHR presents horticulture workshop at MHA conference

Published 06/13/2013

Presentation demonstrates how creative healing program has positively impacted individuals in recovery

National Harbor, Maryland – June 6, 2013 – At the Mental Health America Conference: Why Wellness Works, Fellowship Health Resources’ (FHR) President/CEO Joe Dziobek, Director of Peer Recovery Services Bob Rousseau, and Peer Support Worker Jonathan Pheeny, took center stage as they presented an interactive workshop on horticulture and healing. Held June 5-8 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington, D.C., the conference was attended by hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country. Together, participants joined to develop behavioral health integration, promote the inclusion of wellness strategies within the community, and advocate for the recovery of individuals with mental illness and co-occurring disorders.

FHR’s workshop invited individuals to learn how horticulture can play an important role in the healing and recovery process. The presentation included an overview of FHR’s healing arts program Studio 35, a video on the agency’s horticulture programs in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, and a hands-on activity that allowed all participants to pot their own tomato plant. Pheeny led the room in this step-by-step demonstration, offering his personal experiences with gardening.

Rousseau shared that watching Pheeny instruct a room full of excited participants was the highlight of his experience at the conference. “Jonathan’s personal growth with FHR represents an extraordinary achievement. He has been able to transition from positively responding to FHR services to becoming an FHR Peer Support Worker and sharing his talents in horticulture with his peers,” Rousseau explained. “To witness him having his voice heard on a national platform was truly inspirational.”

“It was an honor to represent FHR and speak at the Mental Health America Conference, and meet leaders like Patrick Kennedy that are supporting mental health,” Pheeny said. “I was able to share basic gardening tips with workshop participants, and help them understand how horticulture can be a therapeutic tool.”

In order to continue to share the positive role horticulture has played in his life with others, Pheeny is in the process of creating a photo-journal. Through pictures and advice, the book will explain how to cultivate a garden.

“Today’s workshop perfectly illustrates how Studio 35 is making a difference,” added Dziobek. “Jonathan has been the creative force behind bringing this horticulture program to life, and was able to flawlessly demonstrate the value that the arts can have in recovery.”