She presented at our door sweaty & obviously anxious. As she explained why she was hanging out behind abandoned buildings, I made note of the jewelry she wore and the streaks of hot pink that highlighted her hair. Homeless, but not uncared for.
Her challenge is severe anxiety that manifests as OCD, ADD and sometimes spreads into depression. She was hesitant to share, “because most people never ‘get it’ and all they want to do is ‘judge you’.” After assuring her that our only intent was to help her, she told me about her two daughters that had to be in full custody with her now ex-husband and all the ways she’s been working to get some cash to stay in a motel. She sits up with pride and says, “but I’d never do “those things.” I take that to mean sexual favors and my heart is sad to think about how that would even be an option for someone.
She recounts the places she’s gone for help. When I suggest the Access Clinic at Johnson County Mental Health Centers, she lights up. “Oh, I think I would do so much better if I could get back on medication.” She looks away in an almost embarrassed side glance and quietly admits using pot almost everyday to help ease back the anxiety. She acknowledges how easy it is to get, but would prefer not to “act like a criminal.” She admitted that if she had resources she’d be “more productive and off the streets.”
I couldn’t help but think about all the people she had crossed paths with. People who pressed her forward without asking about her mental health. It strikes me as strange that we can know that mental health issues are prevalent with the homeless, but not move to equip ourselves with the personal knowledge that could make a real difference for someone in their deepest need.
That’s why I’m so happy to announce that Pathway To Hope is moving forward with expanding our training courses!
We’ve spent the last 15+ years helping individuals and families learn to better support the people they love living with mental illness. Our expanded training will do the same thing for non-mental health professionals, advocates, ministers and others in the community. We call it 3 Day E3 Live Intensive™. Yes, it’s a mouthful! And those who participate will be equipped to not remain silent in the face of suffering. Last year, we made the effort to reach out more to those serving the broader community and invited them to take our course. Here’s what a few of them had to say:
“Everyone involved with helping people should take a course like this.” Vickie, Pastor’s Wife
“I can’t believe how much better equipped I feel to understand what people with mental illness are going through!” Lisa, Shelter Hotline worker
“I love the program and now I don’t feel so afraid when I can tell there is something wrong, but in the past I couldn’t even imagine how to help them. I’m embarrassed to say that I just wanted to make the go away.” Maria, Church Secretary
Our E3: Encourage•Empower•Educate Course™ is designed for those who have little or no mental health background. When you’re finished, you’ll be better able to recognize mental health issues and build resources relevant to those you serve. We’d invite you to learn more about the course and look at the dates the course is being offered this fall: HERE.
Are you wondering what happened with Angel? Well, we were able to help her complete her intake paperwork for mental health services, we took her to her initial appointment at Johnson County Mental Health, and because of the generosity of a local congregation, we were able to take her to a local motel for a few days to get relief from the heat. Small steps of dignity for a determined young woman. We aren’t sure where her pathway to hope will take her, but we’re dedicated to creating more champions who will recognize the need for mental health support along the way. We called her Angel to protect her identity and to challenge you to consider your role of support! There are many in our community that need an Angel. Will you be one?
Thank you for all you do to help us make sure that no one faces mental illness alone!