Open Door-A community of friends supporting wellness and recovery

Open Door, a peer support and recovery center for adults with mental illness, is under new management by your local nonprofit mental health resource center, Mental Health America in Sheboygan County (MHA).

MHA took ownership of the program, formerly governed by a separate board of directors and successfully operated for over 12 years until their recent year-end dissolution in January. With the possibility of the program shutting down completely if a new entity with a like-minded mission was not identified, the board and staff of MHA seized the opportunity of continuing the valuable service of a drop-in center for adults with mental illness, with plans of recovery-based enhancements, thus creating the “new” Open Door.

You might be asking yourself a couple questions: What is a drop-in center? What does recovery-based services mean? And what is peer support?

 Drop-in centers offer a safe, supportive environment within a community for individuals who have experienced mental illness, trauma, addiction, and emotional challenges. The “new” Open Door will remain a safe and comfortable place for peers with mental illness to drop-in to relax, socialize, meet new friends, and be without judgment.

Open Door will also continue to provide drop-in hours with the leisure activities theprogramwasknownforsuch as a pool table, Foosball table, movies and a comfortable lounge area. In addition, the “new” Open Door will be operated from a recovery-based approach and perspective.

Operating from a recovery-oriented perspective means a number of things. The program is a community of friends supporting wellness and recovery. At the core of the program is the belief that recovery is possible through proper treatments and support. Open Door acts as one of many supports in an individual’s life encouraging a person’s self-worth, empowerment, individuality and emotional well-being, while providing an underlying sense of hope.

The “new” Open Door has plans to enhance elements of the program with additional skills training during off dropin hours. Additional support groups, mental health and wellness presentations, activities, etc. will be unrolled in the months ahead, to create a program that embraces recovery from a physical, mental, spiritual, and social lens.

Peer support will play a critical role as well in the “new” Open Door. MHA added three new positions of peer specialists to implement the program. A peer specialist is a person who has progressed in their own recovery from a mental illness, trauma or addiction and is willing to self-identify as a peer to assist other individuals who may be struggling with a mental illness, addiction or trauma related disorder.

The new team members, a fabulous addition to the MHA team, are able to cultivate their peers’ ability to make informed, independent choices, identify and building on their strengths, as well as assist folks in gaining information and support to make their goals a reality.

I invite you to see for yourself what the “new” Open Door is all about. We are excited to watch this program transform and grow in the months and years ahead.

Open Door is located at 817 N. Eighth St., Sheboygan. Drop-in hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. More information and a monthly calendar of events can be found at or by calling 920-783-6801.

Be well, friends!

Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and member of Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health Committee.