Spirituality and Mental Health

I am at the Cathederal ofOur Lady of Angels on Temple Street in Los Angeles for a Los Angeles Country DMH mental health conference. 

First, as a happy little Methodist I must say that Catholic churches floor me. I was born in a hospital populated with Carmelite nuns. For years I thought of becoming a nun until I realized that the Methodist church is nun-less. 

Second, talk of ‘moral injury’ is fascinating.  I’ve become accustomed to separating the material from the physical.  After a semester of Theroies of Health and Mental Health, I have managed to blend brain anatomy with research theories. My capacity to hold multiple concepts in my head at once.

I completed my last paper for the semester at 3 this morning and I am so tired, but exhaustion is no excuse to not work on myself and ability to help others, right?  I am sitting here with my favorite Professor, Tamara from USC.

What it takes to become “un-homeless”

Okay, I am going to editorialize a little here. I have my page of resources that I click on every day in my office – there are just too many numbers to keep in my head! I work at a company whose goal is to help the county of Los Angeles reduce the number of adults and families receiving CalWORKS – (Welfare to the rest of you).  My job is different from every one else in the building because my caseload is made entirely of homeless families. Don’t feel sorry for me, my job is actually a great exploration of the state of Californiaand the County of Los Angeles, the department of Mental Health and the Legal Aid and Neighborhood Legal Services. This is an advocate’s dream job. All I have to do is get a hold of the client and sell them on participating. The “selling” part has it’s challenges, especially when they either participate or lose a portion of their cash aid. I believe in what I do, and fortunately I have seen more adults go from a position of homelessness to being independantly housed through the G.A.I.N. program than I did in all my years working on Skid Row.     Ahh, Skid Row, I still love it – but that is a story for another time.

How do you become Un-Homeless? –

Duh, you go into housing!

How do you qualify and afford housing – well, there’s the rub. Chances are you won’t without:

1. a job

2. some help – emotional , family , friends, therapists (hey, being poor is stressful!)

3. money management skills

4. continuing training to keep your job skills sharp and improving you to career level

5. Life and Money Management skills.

How do you get those items? – Well, you probably won’t if you try to do it on your own and you have been homeless for a while. I say this because if you already had those supports in place, you would have bounced from Housed to Couch Surfing to Housed again without ever hitting the streets.

Go to my Resources page for the actual web sites and phone numbers of people and agencies that offer the services you are looking for. If you are a felon . . . talk to your parole officer or probation officer. you will surprised at the resources they have!

If you are in CalWORKS – make an appointment with your GAIN worker as soon as possible and ask your Eligability Worker about the Homeless Case Managers in your area. The county has alot to offer.

Apply for housing everywhere, get on the Section 8 lists for your local and county Housing Authorities. Call the non-profit housing agencies and ask HOW TO GET ON THE WAITING  LISTs.

Most importantly, and I know this sounds lame, BELIEVE that your housing status will change. See yourself as a “housed person” and make use of every program that is offered to you. This may mean telling folks you are homeless, but there are services and use them.

In the mean time, you and everyone you know should become active in the community and writing to your elected officials – we need more low income housing, more subsidized housing, more shelters, and transitional housing locations.