Hopewell Therapeutic Farm

– [Narrator] Budding
photographer Amanda Wagner has been a Hopewell resident two years. – I was in and out of
inpatient outpatient hospitals since I was 16, cause
I was very depressed, and I was diagnosed with schizoaffective when I was 21 years old,
and my father passed away. So that really just took
away my life pretty much. – [Narrator] A life
she’s trying to rebuild while at this tranquil
site just a mile outside the hamlet of Mesopotamia,
where horse-drawn buggies share two-lane roads with pickup trucks and neighbors are few. There is no typical story
about how or why a person winds up at Hopewell, but
like Amanda who’s from Texas, many are not in their first
residential treatment situation. – When I think about the
future I feel scared. – [Interviewer] Why? – Because you don’t know
what the future holds. It’s kinda how I believe it. – [Narrator] Amanda
knows she is fortunate. Hopewell was one of only five
therapeutic farm communities in the United States. Each has it’s own focus and approach. Hopewell stresses four
pillars of treatment. The healing power of
nature, meaningful work participation in a therapeutic community, and clinical engagement
including individual and group therapy and adherence
to proscribed regimens of psychiatric medications. – Medication remains critical. These mental illnesses
cause significant challenges and the medications can help. They can put them in a state of mind that allows them to take advantage of what we have to offer here at Hopewell. – [Mary] Watercolor kinda has a little bit of a life of its own so it’s really important
to just experiment with it and sort of see what happens. – [Narrator] Hopewell’s
60 full-time, part-time, and associated clinical staff
outnumber the residents, about 30 or so during our visit. Every one of those employees
has a special skillset. Program Services Supervisor Jack Childers lives on the farm full time. He oversees the residents who do much of the daily work here. – It’s vital to our mission at Hopewell. Without the work crews we’d
be like so many other places. With the work crews it
allows them to take part in meaningful work, not just busy work. They’re actually helping the
runnings of the farm here. At the same time, they get to see the results of their work, which I think is very rewarding. – [Narrator] Charles there,
trimming trees with Jack arrived just two days ago. Typically residents stay
four to nine months, although some do stay for much longer. – A lot of people here, myself included have been institutionalized
prior to being here. And just the whole approach
is completely different here, more focused on the value
of the person, you know. Even just expecting us
to go to work crews. That means we A, value
the work you put in, and B, we believe you could do it. – [Narrator] This approach
to therapy reflects a detailed and deeply researched strategy, currently overseen by
Executive Director Jim Bennett. – When we talked to residents today, they have such a sense of well-being about what this place does. How does that happen? – I think it’s because of
the supportive environment that we’re absolutely committed to, each and every one of us who are here. – The idea that they’re here 24/7. The idea that the care is constant has to be a long way toward healing. – I think it is, and
another way to describe it is a total change of environment from where they were before. Isolated, by themselves psychologically, and often feeling alone and
not connected with people. And here they are connected all the time. They sleep in the cottages,
the dine together, they do work groups together,
and so the human fabric is stitched together here to
make that healing environment. – Most folks who come to us,
by the time they come to us they’ve lost all sorts of
connections to the community. They’ve lost the ability to work. They’ve lost the ability to be in school. They’ve lost connections at church. They’ve lost connections,
family, quite frankly. Work is one of the ways that they get connected to people here at Hopewell. – For many of our residents, coming into a facility like this is really just a proverbial
breath of fresh air. They’ve been in and out
of treatment facilities, many restricted or lockdown units and a lot of people are tentative
about exploring Hopewell because that is precisely the environment they don’t want to be in. They’re looking for something freeing. Something where they can engage in a meaningful community. They’re not looking for
a restricted environment. – THey come in, this will
sound dramatic, but shattered. They come in having spent
the last year and a half of their life just not
living any kind of a life. And for the most successful,
and most people that come here get to some degree of feeling confident that they can go out and
live a more independent, rich, full life. – [Narrator] Hopewell is
very much a working farm. Residents tend large gardens under Cindy Wagner’s supervision. What they grow supplies 90%
of the vegetables eaten here, and the residents know
their contributions matter. – When we plant seeds in the garden, we watch them grow, just like all of us, you know, we grow. That’s the best part about Hopewell. – About mid-July, end of July they start coming up red-faced. – [Narrator] Wellness
educator Jennifer Miller has turned the crops grown here
and the animals raised here into meals for eight years now. She says good nutrition directly impacts mental and physical
health, and eating well is part of the treatment. – Nutrition is vital in
the development of the mind as far as mood, memory. So the more whole foods,
the more healthy foods that we can give them, the better off they’re
going to be mentally. – There wasn’t anything here. There was nothing close to Cleveland. And I saw there was a need. – [Narrator] The vision of what
Hopewell could and should be and the driving force
to create this community came from Clara T. Rankin. Now 102 years old and wearing
her signature blue hat she invited me to her garden
to talk about Hopewell. – I wanted a peaceful
place where people could go without feeling stress,
and where they could work with the earth, because
I feel that’s very important to be able to put your hands in the soil. And I think that working
with something like that is very healing. – [Narrator] But is there
more than anecdotal evidence that this emotional healing manifested through hard work and
service actually helps? Dr. Martha Schinagle
of University Hospitals crunches the numbers from Hopewell and follows its alumni. – I’ve continued to follow and
work with a handful of people after they’ve left
Hopewell, and I can tell you that, I mean, they do great. The people that I’ve seen do great. And it’s not like instantly they come out and you know everything’s good. There’s, the first year
is a big adjustment and hard work to get
sort of settled into life outside of Hopewell and to find their way. But they learn the tools and the skills while they’re at Hopewell. – [Narrator] She says about 50% go back to live with their families. About 20 to 30% end up in group homes, the rest often live independently. 21 year old Abbey Taylor will
soon be among those alumni. Shes’ been a resident for about 13 weeks but will shortly return to Clermont County in Southwestern Ohio. She was accustomed to
residential treatment but not to farming, and has loved being among so many animals. (goat whinnying) It made completing her rehabilitation for depression, anxiety
and PTSD at Hopewell feel more like home. – Even if you don’t love animals there’s 200 acres of woods out there. There’s a big emphasis on
being out in nature here, and I think that’s
definitely really important so there’s a lot of that. I think it’s very
therapeutic just to you know trying to look for the little things and there are so many little things to appreciate in nature like just even the little
chicks we have over here. They’re so cute. (chicks cheeping) – [Narrator] Caring for cute chicks, 300 pound pigs, cows and horses isn’t the only non-standard therapy here. Mary Cassidy runs Hopewell’s art program. She loves having the artists
create while outdoors which Cassidy says helps residents express themselves creatively. – I explain that to
folks as sort of having a conversation with your unconsciousness so it gives you the ability to maybe learn a little bit more about yourself maybe build some insight or awareness into some things that are
happening in the moment while you’re in recovery and
while you’re going through this oftentimes challenging and
difficult healing journey. To have a way to just kind of get it out. – [Narrator] An artist
who’s already transitioned is Sam Silverman, who left
Hopewell five years ago. He says the months spent
there made a huge difference in his artwork and in his life. – My artwork is mostly music based because I have something
called synesthesia which means that I see sounds
and I hear shapes and colors. I was struggling with mental illness. I was wandering a lot, just
doing the chores on the farm, feeding the animals,
collecting maple syrup. Just walking in the woods in nature. I mean those are things
that really heal a person. And I think that other
facilities may not be like that like a hospital wouldn’t enable you to be out in nature and to
feel so free and good. – [Narrator] If the idea
is to feel free and good why not interject some
rock and roll into the mix? ♪ Shadowmen talk a real good game ♪ ♪ Every punchline has your name ♪ Yes, it’s a cover band
playing Tom Petty songs. Called Musical Journey, its
rotating cast of musicians includes mostly residents
but on guitar is Jim Miller. Bandleader, and another
Hopewell therapist. He says his players bond
and learn responsibility from behind their drums, keyboards and other instruments. – Music I think is the greatest therapy. Number one, you forget all your troubles while you’re working on it. You have to concentrate
and work on the music. So not only is the time spent maybe the three months we’ve spent working a process that is in many ways spiritual and in many ways healing, but it’s a great sense of
accomplishment for everybody. (rock and roll music) The surprise ending. (laughing) – [Narrator] That sense of accomplishment is not always shared
by insurance companies. Months of intensive residential care that can carry a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars is not cost effective in their eyes. Limited or even
non-existent reimbursements have kept the number of
people who could benefit from Hopewell’s program
well below its capacity. Residential treatment
in general costs between 10 and $60,000 a month. Hopewell officials say
its costs are toward the lower end of that scale, and that most residents
rely on their own resources along with limited insurance benefits. And the farm does work with some families to help subsidize some costs. – The impact that places like ours are going to be able to make
is going to be constrained unless and until insurers
and government funding start to realize that if
you want to help people be independent and recover
from mental illness you cannot do it through
short stays in institutions. – Would you like to see the Hopewell model expand across the States? – I think there’s a big need. I think it would be good
if somebody could do it. Each place in the group
of five that we know about that are similar, does it
in a slightly different way. So who knows if they
would ever call it a model for them to do that, but this has been thought about quite a
bit I think at Hopewell and aboard discussions. – Mental health is a journey
that involves a lot of people but at the end of the day it’s work that I have to do myself and that I have to hold
myself accountable for. But to have this community
of people around me cheering me on and you know, who are there when I ask questions or
I’m having a bad day. There’s a lot to be said
for that support to be yes this is in a lot of ways a journey that I have to take myself
but I’m never truly alone there are always people on the sidelines cheering me on and helping me. ♪ You’re flirting with time baby ♪ ♪ Flirting with time, but maybe ♪ ♪ Time baby, is catching up with you ♪ (rock and roll music)

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