At JFCS, we provide a helping hand to those in need. Through our wraparound services, we can offer our clients hope, stability, and the opportunity to thrive. However, as we learn more about a client’s story, we often find a common issue: struggles with mental health.
Imagine meeting a man in need of financial support due to his difficulty holding a job. A couple of conversations later, you learn that he has an ongoing battle with a chronic illness. When he confides in you that he has hit rock bottom and lost all hope, it is evident that this illness has taken a toll on him; not just on his health, but on his spirit too. At JFCS, we understand that his situation calls for more than financial support. We can connect him with vital resources, including a therapist who can guide him through the challenges in his life. With financial assistance and a therapist’s support, he can rekindle a new sense of hope and well-being, even while dealing with a chronic illness.
At JFCS, we provide several services that “wrap around” all aspects of a person’s life. You see, as we work closely with our clients, we often discover that they need more than one type of help. This occurs in all of our departments, from Child Welfare to Senior Services. While our clients may be “surviving,” managing to meet their basic needs, we see that untreated mental health can hinder their ability to thrive.
In addition to those seeking financial assistance, children in foster care face distinct challenges, ones that can be detrimental to their well-being. Complex trauma, frequently changing transitions, and broken family relationships are just a few things that can affect their health. We work with partner organizations like The Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide services that can ensure their safety, however, their journey does not end when they leave foster care. As foster children move into adulthood and out of “the system,” they continue to face unique challenges compared to other young adults. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues compared to approximately 18-22 percent of the general population. With that in mind, a therapist can offer crucial support to these young adults.
Lorna Wittenrich, Director of Clinical Services at JFCS, explains that while these children can receive services through extended foster care, support from our organization remains ongoing. This way, they can transition into adulthood as healthy and safe as possible. She states that support doesn’t stop when children ‘age out’ of foster care. They can make decisions for themselves once they turn 18, but if they have a hard time finding their way, we provide even more support.
“When we struggle with our mental health, support becomes a vital piece of the puzzle. Things like housing and food are essential, but they alone don’t complete the picture of a person’s well-being.”
– Lorna Wittenrich
So, due to the nature of our work, we often find mental health interweaving itself into other departments. We see this in our Senior Services department, where we offer specialized care for seniors in our community. Our case managers provide services like delivering groceries to their home and accompanying them to medical appointments, with the goal of helping their clients remain as independent as possible. Case managers also provide senior clients’ families and caregivers with education, practical resources, and support.
Case managers often see our older clients sharing a notable issue: loneliness. Sometimes their grown children live out of state or, due to COVID-19, they have limited opportunities to socialize. Regardless of the circumstances, there are many situations that can leave seniors feeling alone and vulnerable, which can potentially lead to mental health crises. Our commitment to senior clients goes beyond physical support. We recognize the importance of addressing our client’s social and emotional needs. Case managers can connect our seniors with additional resources, including counselors that can help them navigate their feelings.
All in all, our mental health is the bedrock of our well-being. If your body’s mental health is unwell, it impacts every other area of your life. Whether it’s a chronic illness or a complex past, we all experience struggles in life. When those struggles go unaddressed, a dark cloud can hang over you, impacting how you think, act, and feel. On the flip side, when we take that step toward nurturing our mental health, it can be life-changing.
Our counseling services would not be as accessible if it were not for the help of our community. Organizations, foundations, and private donations all contribute to our mission of addressing mental health. For under-insured and non-insured clients, The Jim Moran Foundation allows us to provide counseling to clients who otherwise could not afford it, so they can continue to receive the support they need.
We want to extend a special thank you to the following organizations and foundations for supporting JFCS. Together, we are addressing mental health in our community.
Through our wraparound services, we understand that untreated mental health can deeply impact individuals’ lives, regardless of their reasons for seeking help. We envision a community where mental wellness is prioritized, and we work to connect our clients with vital resources that are “helping people help themselves.” We truly, as a community, make a profound impact on mental health, one person at a time.