During Mental Health Awareness Month, Anawim Housing took time to reflect on how mental illness touches and affects so many aspects of the work we do and those we serve.
By: Cynthia Latcham, Anawim Housing
Qualifications for Anawim Housing’s Permanent Supportive Housing programs include being homeless and having a disability diagnosis. The most prevalent disability diagnosis is a serious mental illness. Living with a mental illness still conjures feelings of shame and inadequacy. Mental Health awareness month helps to reduce the stigma and secrecy of mental illness through education and advocacy.
Having a safe place to call home is foundational for people to begin to create and achieve goals. For many people, addressing their mental health symptoms wasn’t possible when they were living homeless. Once housing is provided, Permanent Supportive Housing program managers partner with participants to set goals for a happy, fulfilling and self-directed life.
Program managers become very adept at addressing mental health conditions in an accepting and non- judgmental manner. Through normalizing mental health symptoms and addressing in a straight forward manner, people begin to trust their program managers aren’t going to blame them for their illness. After all, mental health is just health.
An effective evidence based practice for addressing serious mental illness is by utilizing a peer support model. Anawim’s Full Circle allows for participants to share openly regarding their success and their struggles with mental health recovery. Through this process they learn they are not alone, they experience empathy and compassion from their peers who have had similar struggles, and they learn what others do to help to maintain their mental health recovery.
Anawim Housing supports parity between physical and behavioral health services. We believe in treating everyone with respect and dignity. We believe housing is a human right.