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How one nonprofit is addressing mental health issues in Tonopah

Tonopah resident Boonn Hem is working to bring mental health support to the community through her work with Foundation for Recovery.

The nonprofit organization provides mental health and substance abuse services to any adult age 18 and older in Nevada.

“Community is what I’m working on in Tonopah right now,” Hem said. “Everyone is in their own little world because of the pandemic.”

Hem is the only Foundation for Recovery peer in Central Nevada. Her work takes her to Nye, Lincoln, Mineral, Elko and Esmeralda counties.

In contrast, the organization has 11 peers in Clark County and two in Washoe County.

“I’m fighting to get Foundation for Recovery here, even if I’m the only one.” Hem said. “It’s my passion.”

According to the CDC Overdose Data to Action program, suspected drug-related emergency room visits increased by 189 percent from December 2020 to December 2021 in Nye, Lincoln, Esmeralda and Mineral counties.

What sets Foundation for Recovery apart from traditional therapy is its use of mentorship and lifestyle coaching. Every recovery plan is tailored to individual needs.

All peers in the organization have experience with drugs or mental health disorders and have been in recovery for at least two years.

“Our approach is different because we know how it feels,” Hem said. “Every recovery story is different, but we have mutual respect.”

Part of Hem’s job is going out into the community and providing one-on-one Peer Recovery Support, whether someone needs to talk to someone or needs help finding solutions to improve their living situation.

“All of us need a foundation for our lives. When we put people in our system, we ask them to name their supporters and sometimes they can’t. I’ll put myself because I’m their peer,” Hem said.

In order to become a Peer Recovery Support Specialist, individuals must complete 675 hours of service within a 12-month period.

Later in the year, Hem plans to bring more Foundation for Recovery services to Tonopah, including GED tutoring, parenting classes and various support groups. She is currently working on organizing sober events in town.

“My job is to get me out of a job. Some people go to counselors and they want to see you every week,” Hem said. “I build your foundation of recovery and you take that with you. Our goal is to make you independent.”

Foundation for Recovery will be hosting an Overdose Prevention Training event on Friday, March 11 at the NyE Communities Coalition (NyECC) building, 1 Frankie Street in Tonopah, from 1 to 2 p.m.

Participants will learn how to recognize an opioid overdose and receive an overdose kit containing nasal Naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes.

All services are free and insurance is not needed to participate. If you would like to learn more about Foundation for Recovery, you can contact Hem at 702-935-0485. Her office is located inside the Tonopah NyECC building.

The organization also hosts a support group every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at the NyECC building in Tonopah. Everyone is welcome to attend.

“All types of recovery are welcome,” Hem said. “We are all having a human experience.”

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