Outreach: Community Service

Climbing to Wellness at MetalMark

unnamed-13Imagine you are a 19 year old and in your first year of college. You are living away from your home for the first time. You are feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the requirements of school. Each day is a battle to survive the pressure and stress of school. Until one day the stress and anxiety become too overwhelming. You have a nervous breakdown and you quit. You leave school—your dream and your hope for the future. On your drive home you feel like a failure. Each day spent at home is a constant reminder that you failed and you feel that you will never succeed.

Or imagine that you are an 18 year old male who has a history of depression. Your depression feels like a demon that is with you wherever you go. It robs you of your energy and motivation. You try to do the things that bring you joy, but they feel empty. Each day you tell yourself that this is a new day but soon you feel empty again. It affects every area of your life: school, family, and friends. Now picture that you are a 20 year old who suffers from crippling anxiety. You are continually afraid of being in new places with new people. Going out to new places or to meet new people feels impossible because it triggers panic attacks and fear of the unknown. Isolation and withdrawal is your only way of coping.

Thankfully these stories don’t end in hopelessness. Climbing to Wellness is a group organized by a local Fresno County mental health program. The group focused on working with 17-21 year olds from the Fresno area who struggle with the negative effects of depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mental challenges. The group facilitators focused on providing a safe and supportive environment where the participants could face and then overcome their feelings of fear, anxiety, isolation, hopelessness, depression, and doubt. The group facilitators also focused on allowing each participant to build and maintain healthy relationships with the other group members. The group accomplished these goals by combining traditional group therapy with adventure based therapy.

unnamed-12Adventure therapy combines traditional psychotherapy with the twist of adventure. The group would meet at the office for traditional group therapy to learn new skills and gain greater understanding. For the adventure component the group would go to MetalMark Climbing. MetalMark volunteered gear, time, and support for the “Climbing to Wellness” group to use their facility. Adventure therapy is a profoundly powerful therapeutic tool that greatly complements traditional therapy. One person wrote the following about the use of climbing in therapy, “Climbing is an effective and therapeutic intervention for young adults that may help increase self-confidence, trust, achieve a feeling of accomplishment, and overcome fears. Therapeutic climbing promotes healthy mental, physical, and emotional development to increase positive relationships with others and create a better sense of self.” The Climbing to Wellness group met and surpassed this expectation.

The outcomes of this group deeply impacted the participants and the staff involved. The anxiety of the participants greatly decreased as a result of the group. Each member grew in confidence and trust. They learned how to recognize their feelings and express them in healthy ways. One participant shared, “Climbing has helped me let go of my built up anxiety. I hope that my anxiety continues to go away because I am finally beginning to feel happy.” Another member said, “I have become more confident. I have learned better ways to take care of myself. I hope to use these things I have learned from the group to apply in parenthood, work, and school.” Going back to the beginning scenarios, all of those stories shared a common factor; they all lacked hope. The greatest success that came from the Climbing to Wellness group was that it helped each participant begin to regain their hope.

We're so happy to be able to support Climbing to Wellness at MetalMark!

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