A few weeks ago marked the start of National Recovery Month – a time for us to celebrate the achievements and honor the struggles of the millions of Americans who grapple with both substance use and mental health disorders.
While 19.7 million Americans have some kind of substance use disorder, more than twice that number – 46.6 million Americans – have a mental illness of some kind. Eight and a half million struggle with both at the same time.
The cost to our economy is staggering: One study estimated that the nation could lose $16 trillion over the next few decades due to reduced productivity and employability of workers facing mental health challenges. That impact trickles down from businesses to communities and families, creating generational cycles of poor mental health and economic disenfranchisement that keep individuals from achieving all they’re capable of.
Few things are more challenging than battling against your own brain – but with a strong support system and a safe environment that helps individuals recognize and embrace their unique abilities, it’s possible to thrive. We’re proud to work alongside some remarkable organizations that are forging strong and stable communities and environments. Check out their work below:
Dallas Life is the single largest homeless shelter in north Texas. It takes a comprehensive approach to care and rehabilitation, providing for physical needs (through food, clothing and medical, dental and vision care in an in-house clinic), spiritual needs (through chapel services and a full-time chaplain) and mental health needs (through free-of-charge counseling by master’s level interns). It also offers individual programs tailored to the needs of specific populations, including senior citizens, veterans and the unemployed. It’s New Life program in particular has had explosive success: 90% of participants successfully complete the program and achieve self-sufficiency.
The Other Side Academy (TOSA) believes that experience is the greatest teacher. A two-year residential program for criminal offenders, the homeless and those struggling with substance abuse, participants live in an intentional therapeutic community with peers and leaders who have undergone similar experiences and have turned their lives around by completing the program. During this time, participants go through intense self-examination and take on responsibility for the growth of themselves and others. They develop critical personal skills and values, along with professional skills through the program’s adjacent social enterprises, The Other Side Movers and The Other Side Thrift Boutique. After completing the program, they emerge ready and eager to shape their own destiny; 95% graduate drug-free, crime-free and employed. TOSA has recently expanded its transformational programming from Salt Lake City to now Denver as well.
Headstrong connects veterans with the best mental healthcare providers, offering personalized services and strategies to recover from the mental wounds of war. Thanks to community partnerships and a streamlined model, veterans receive this care free of cost. The results are remarkable: 75% sleep more soundly, 83% experience nightmares and flashbacks less frequently and 80% reduce their reliance on drugs and alcohol. Based in New York, the organization serves veterans in San Francisco, Houston and Washington, D.C.
Inner City Visions helps youth in urban Los Angeles re-envision what their life could look like beyond the ravages of gang violence, poverty and human trafficking. The organization runs a variety of services, including community and school-based intervention programs, mentoring and job readiness programs, and 24-hour crisis care. It’s had a significant impact on the Florence-Firestone area, with a 43% drop in murders in the neighborhood parks and 28 successful rescues in human trafficking situations.
Leap to Success comes alongside women who have experienced severe trauma from domestic violence and/or homelessness, equipping them with the tools they need to live lives of dignity, hope and self-sufficiency. Combining personal and professional leadership programming with community engagement initiatives, it allows women to harness their unique stories and abilities to create a new status quo of respect and confidence for themselves and their children. Growing from 6 participants to 2,200, Leap to Success has shared its mission with over 7,000 women across the country.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes helps the city of Austin practice radical hospitality, in which homeless individuals live and work the in community alongside their neighbors. It takes a three-pronged approach: Its truck ministry delivers food and other necessities to Austin’s homeless community every night of the year; its Community First! Village provides safe and affordable housing to those seeking to transition out of homelessness; and its Community Works program harnesses the power of social entrepreneurship to equip individuals who have experienced homelessness to acquire professional and personal skills and earn a dignified income. To date, the organization has served over 5 million meals and retained 87% of its Community First! Village housing members.
Give an Hour is connecting the most vulnerable in society to the mental health care and healing they need. In partnership with licensed mental health care professionals, Give an Hour offers free mental care services to populations carrying heavy emotional burdens but who are often underserved or ignored. And in 2015 they launched their Campaign to Change Direction, aimed at changing the conversation around mental health in the U.S. and empowering people to seek and receive care in their communities for the mental health challenges plaguing so many Americans. Through their volunteer network of more than 7,000 mental health care professionals, they’ve provided nearly 300,000 hours of free care.
Mental health challenges too often go unseen and untreated, leaving millions of Americans alone in the struggle for healing, and we’re proud to partner with such outstanding Catalysts who are freeing individuals to fully live up to their potential. To learn more about their work and to support them through our Giving Together Initiative, visit standtogetheragainstpoverty.org