Big Spring State Hospital Helping Patients Get Back Into the Community

by Anayeli Ruiz 
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING - You could call it shopping therapy but it's a little different from what you may have in Midland. It's a new program at the Big Spring State Hospital aimed at helping patients integrate back into their communities. NewsWest9 spoke to hospital officials and patients to find out how the program is making an impact.

"What our goals are is to reintegrate some of our patients back in to the community," Josh Preston, with the Big Spring State Hospital, said.

The program's purpose is to help mental patients readjust back into society. The patients are doing that by volunteering at the Chalet consignment store. The Chalet in Big Spring has primarily been run by volunteers for many years but now the patients are getting to help firsthand and all the money raised goes to the Big Spring State Hospital.

"It not only reconnects them with the community but it also promotes self esteem. It encourages the person to take charge of their own recovery," Preston said.

That's what patients like Olga Martinez are doing. She goes in Monday through Friday and helps sort through the donations, puts prices on them and then she sets them out for people to buy.

"It's helped me feel good about myself and find peace," Olga Martinez, a Big Spring State Hospital Patient, said.

Although the patients only work a few hours a day, it is enough to help them with their recovery.

"Community reintegration is very important for their recovery process for individuals that have been hospitalized for an extended period of time," Preston said.

The program started just six months ago and volunteer workers at the Chalet say they're happy to have some extra helping hands.

"It's been a blessing to us and I hope it's been a blessing to them. We've seen a lot of growth with them," Chalet Volunteer, Ruth Nanny, said.

In the meantime, patients will continue with the program until they are discharged because every day they volunteer it helps them get better.

"It helps me get up in the day to put my best foot forward. It helps to feel that you are trusted and to know that you can get outside the hospital," Martinez said.

For the future, the Big Spring State Hospital wants to add more workers to their program.