How We Help
At 17, severe anxiety, trauma and substance abuse led Clara to a series of hospitalizations and treatment programs. Years later, fleeing her abusive partner, Clara and her four month old son entered a homeless shelter where she connected with a therapist from MHA. The therapist supported Clara through the challenging transition and helped her to cope and plan for her future.
After her therapist helped Clara settle into an apartment near family and friends, Clara decided to leave therapeutic services. A few years later, she returned to MHA when she relapsed and her son was removed from her home.
Once again, MHA’s safety net was there to support Clara through the next phase of recovery. Clara began meeting with her therapist regularly, wrestling with the painful traumatic experience that resulted in self-destructive behavior.
Clara was empowered to take better care of herself, to improve her decision-making skills and address her health care needs. She embraced MHA’s parenting training as she yearned to be a better mother and meet her son’s needs. Eventually, Clara was able to spend more time with her son which brought her enormous joy.
For Clara, the commitment to recovery, hand in hand with the support and connection to MHA, is bearing fruit. She is increasingly confident, feels significantly less anxious and has been sober for three years. She is attending college and has just been awarded joint custody of her son.
From ages six to 16, Jamie, now age 28, had been sexually abused by her stepfather. As a young adult without any healthy coping strategies or support, she abused drugs and alcohol as a way to manage her pain. Estranged from her family, her problems intensified: She felt depressed and hopeless, and dropped out of college. For six years she was able to abstain from using drugs or alcohol, but a relapse and an arrest for shoplifting sent her into a downward spiral, and she ended up in an inpatient rehab facility.
Jamie was referred to MHA after she was discharged from the rehab facility. In one-on-one weekly counseling sessions, MHA’s Clinician offered treatment that helped Jamie to work through the trauma of her abuse. She connected Jamie to supports and referred her to a program to help her meet her goal of finishing college.
Last month, Jamie celebrated one year of sobriety. She now has her own apartment and has saved enough to purchase a used car. She has reconciled with her mother and sister, and they now enjoy a supportive relationship. She is planning for her future, which includes returning to school in February.
John, age 11, is the second oldest of seven children, John and his siblings live with their single mother, who is on a limited income. As a result, John is often on his own, and has limited opportunities for recreational and enrichment activities. With few role models, John was getting into fights both at home and at school.
With MHA’s support, John was able to enjoy supervised, supported, structured weekend trips. Each activity – from plays to bowling alleys to dinners out in Manhattan – is helped John to gain self esteem, and to develop positive relationships, achieve important social, emotional and communications skills, and, of course, to have fun. Weekend trips allowed John to experience a different life, supporting him as he created new aspirations, and made different choices at school, home, and in his neighborhood. They also provided a much-needed break for his mother.
As a result of participating in these trips, John no longer gets into fights, and his school work has improved. He has become a leader, helping to resolve conflicts among the other teens.
Mia, age 15, came home from her mother’s birthday celebration, threw a rope around the ceiling fan in her bedroom and attempted to hang herself. Fortunately, the ceiling fan broke, and Mia survived with minimal injuries. She was hospitalized for five days and, despite having a family history of major depression, Mia was released without any follow-up services. Months later, Mia tells her mother that she is feeling depressed, and once again she is hospitalized for five days.
This time, Mia is referred to MHA for intensive case management services and family support. At first, Mia would not take her medication, used marijuana and regularly missed two or more days of school each week. She had ongoing conflicts with her family and had few friends.
Mia did not want services, and acted out by missing therapy sessions, but her MHA case worker did not give up on her. After a few sessions, Mia began to connect with and trust her case manager. Within a year and a half, Mia graduated from high school on time, had friends, was taking her medications, and had a better relationship with her family. She has not had any hospitalizations since coming to MHA, and Mia reports feeling less depressed and more optimistic about her future.
It can be difficult to imagine life without a home. Unfortunately, individuals diagnosed with a mental illness all too often cannot afford a place to live or need help in learning skills to live independently.
This is Julie’s story. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Julie was only 14 the first time she was hospitalized. When she was 15 her mother died. For the next decade she was in and out of hospitals and residential treatment facilities. By her mid-40s she had managed to attain a college degree, but having spent much of her life in an institution, she didn’t have the skills to live on her own or maintain a job, and couldn’t afford an apartment.
With MHA’s support and assistance, Julie now has a part-time job that she loves, and for the first time in her life, she is living on her own. And, another first for Julie, she has not had any hospitalizations since coming to MHA.
Julie credits her success to having a safe and affordable home and supportive counselors that allow her to focus on her job instead of worrying about where and how she will live. Julie is now giving back: She volunteers at a local mentoring program so that she can help children who are coping with some of the same issues that she faced as a child.