The New Hope program represents decades of collaboration between parents of the mentally ill and respected medical professionals. They have worked to develop a strong program for the treatment of psychosis which is defined as "a severe, persistent form of mental illness characterized by withdrawal from reality, hallucinations, delusional thinking and, in a minority of cases, lapses into violence." New Hope advocates a holistic approach for dealing with the physiological basis of many symptoms that are diagnosed as mental illness.
Two basic principles support the program. First, even in the midst of severe psychosis, patients often display a desire for normalcy, an urge to get well. The second principle is that the treatment of psychosis can succeed only if it addresses all aspects of the problem - physiological, psychological and spiritual.
Families and the patients continually search for promising alternatives, but never has there been an option like New Hope. From the first day, this residential, year-long program works toward achievement of a stable, self-supporting existence. After "graduation," a unique, life-long support system and safety net is available.
New Hope, sponsored by the non-profit New Hope Foundation, is the culmination of a vision - and also a beginning. A lovely rural property only an hour from downtown Washington, DC is the focus of new construction and renovation planning featuring environmentally clean buildings. New Hope will open in the fall of 2001 to accommodate the first 16 of an annual 48 participants.
Since its inception, New Hope has been headquartered in greater Washington,
DC area, receiving approval as a
501(c)3 non-profit organization in 1991.
Surgeon General David Satcher's December 1999 report on mental illness confirms the challenges and opportunities that have generated the New Hope program. In brief, the report asserts that "There is no scientific reason to differentiate between mental health and other kinds of health," stressing the physiological nature and causation of mental illness. Highlights from this report include:
Five percent of the American public (approximately 13,000,000 people) suffer from a serious, persistent mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe, chronic depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Fifty-two million Americans, 20 percent of the population, experience some type of mental disorder each year.
Mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death in the United States.
The mental health system is increasingly knowledgeable about how to help people, but "increasingly unable to reach those who need help the most.
Mental illness affects the general population with little or no discrimination as to racial, cultural or economic differences. New Hope is committed to serving diverse populations. The program seeks to diminish the debilitating impact of mental illness upon participants and their families.
New Hope's mission is to provide individualized treatment and life skills training for those who are burdened with chronic mental illness, assisting them to recover and move on to constructive, self-supporting lives in the community; and to offer "graduates" a lifelong support and safety net.
New Hope's innovative, replicable three-stage program focuses on the development of healthy living habits, the life skills and vocational attitudes essential for graduates to achieve independence in the broader community - both socially and economically. The program is designed to support residents in recapturing - or perhaps even discovering for the first time - a zest for living.
With the medical program as the foundation, New Hope will reinforce the acquisition of practical, skills that support good health and independence. The program integrates techniques proven effective in dealing with serious mental problems, for the first time bringing them together under a single umbrella. Each day will begin with an inspirational session focusing on the celebration of life and opportunities for overcoming adversity.
Several features set New Hope apart from existing programs:
New Hope recognizes that psychosis is a "whole body" illness, basically physiological in nature. The treatment protocol in each case will be based on the results of comprehensive testing to identify all physical dysfunctions: food and chemical allergies, disorders of sugar metabolism, nutritional imbalances and deficiencies, hormonal disturbances and other conditions known to support serious, persistent mental illness, referred to as psychosis.
All New Hope buildings will be constructed to a very high standard of chemical cleanliness.
Each participant will receive individualized treatment.
* Under current projections, the project will be ready to receive participants by October 1, 2001. This date assumes that contributions and pledges will fulfill New Hope's construction and start-up budget of $2,760,501 in a timely fashion.
New Hope is the product of the experiences and observations of John and Daphne Stegmaier who have dealt with chronic mental illness in their own family for nearly 30 years. Their youngest daughter became ill while the family was living in Japan. Returning to the United States, the Stegmaiers spent years exploring treatment options.
In 1980, they had her admitted to a special 9-bed unit in a large Illinois mental hospital where her doctor treated mental illness primarily as a manifestation of food allergies combined with other physiological disorders. At his request, parents stayed with their children every day and frequently at night to guarantee adherence to the strict nutritional and medical program. The Stegmaiers' daughter remained in the hospital for eight months, followed by five additional months in the doctor's outpatient clinic. During this extended period, the Stegmaiers observed overwhelming evidence that detection and aggressive treatment of underlying physiological disorders often result in dramatic improvement and, in many cases, full recovery from chronic mental illness.
This experience left the Stegmaiers committed to the creation of a residential
and therapeutic program that would
address the root causes of mental illness and also provide vigorous retraining to allow mental patients to adjust socially and vocationally to life in the broader community.
The organization is guided by a thirteen member Board of Trustees representing medical professionals in the mental illness field, corporate executives in both allied and non-allied businesses, nutritional experts, educators involved in mental illness research, a representative of the community in which the New Hope facility will be built and members of families whose adult children suffer from mental illness. A twenty-nine member, highly qualified, national committee of Advisors provides a wide range of resources for program planning and implementation.
The original, landmark New Hope planning paper was written by Stanley R. Platman, M.D., M.A. Dr. Platman is a former Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Addictions for Maryland, and currently Co-Director of the Counseling Center at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland and long-time New Hope Trustee.
Janet Aiken, Ph.D., a nutritional psychologist, will systematize scientific outcomes studies of New Hope's performance with the results to be distributed to other interested organizations.
Robert J. Hedaya, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University and author of Understanding Biological Psychiatry (insert name of new book - Daphne will find it) will oversee the psychiatric and medical aspects of the program. Dr. Hedaya comments that "There is absolutely no existing program that evaluates and treats the multiple body systems (e.g., nutritional, immune, hormonal, toxicologic, gastrointestinal) involved in the genesis or exacerbation of (mental) symptoms. It is my firm belief that a program combining a stable, supportive atmosphere, follow-up monitoring of compliance, and the Whole Psychiatry approach will result in a very significant improvement of outcomes..."
Residential and Rehabilitative Outline
Three 4-month residential stages, plus the Graduate Level, independent but
"connected" and living in nearby
communities. 16 new participants every 4 months. A maximum of 48 residents at any one time.
The first four-month stage emphasizes adherence to medical and nutritional regimens and habits of personal cleanliness. Participants will learn to prepare well-balanced meals for themselves and will improve their social skills through staff-directed group activities.
The second stage concentrates on preparation for employment with emphasis on how to apply for and hold a job. Instruction in marketable skills ranging from typing and word-processing to outdoor activities like organic farming will be offered. Qualified residents may enroll for selected courses at a nearby community college.
Stage III Residents will assume more independent roles while still living on the New Hope campus. They will work in the neighboring community or at New Hope itself in preparation for regular employment following graduation.
Throughout the three stages, the New Hope staff will work closely with the
residents in identifying aptitudes and
interests. Staff will provide support in finding appropriate employment for Stage III and beyond.
Graduate Level: Lifelong Support System and Safety Net
Graduates will be eligible for low-rent, New Hope-owned apartments in the local community. New Hope's professional staff will be available to provide occupants with, and as needed, lifelong counsel and support to minimize the homelessness, suicide and recidivism characteristic of mental patients. The terms for such assistance will be negotiated by the Parent Association and New Hope, which will share operational responsibility for the apartments. New Hope will work effectively against the "revolving door" syndrome broadly characteristic of today's mental patients. The program will also provide an appealing answer to the question that worries parents of the mentally ill:
'What will happen to our child when we are gone?"