On an unseasonably cold and wintry day, Annette was evicted from her apartment in Denver. She left with what she could carry in her suitcase, leaving behind her bed, couch and new kitchen table behind.
This was not the first time Annette had experienced homelessness. But this time it felt extra painful. She had worked so hard to achieve stability.
Without a place to call home, it can be a struggle to secure basic needs. Annette wasn’t eating, drinking enough water or taking her mental health medication. She felt helpless and had suicidal thoughts.
When two crisis services join forces
Annette turned to her counselor at NextChapter, a WellPower program that offers employment and education training, serving as a pathway to the larger community. Annette had been coming to NextChapter for many years.
Annette’s counselor took her to WellPower’s Walk-in Crisis (WIC) Center on East Colfax. The WIC is part of Colorado Crisis Services, a network of six walk-in crisis centers across metro Denver. These centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need. For a person who is experiencing homelessness, accessing crisis services can be a critical first step in finding stability and security.
The Walk-in Crisis Center addressed Annette’s immediate needs and connected Annette to the Behavioral Health Solutions Center (BHSC), WellPower’s innovative, 24/7 program that provides crisis stabilization, temporary housing and ongoing support all in the same facility.
Annette was transported to the BHSC where she spent a few days in the stabilization clinic, receiving medication, individual and group therapy. From there, she relocated upstairs to a state-of-the-art transitional shelter for 30 days before integrating back into the community.
“They truly care about people,” said Annette. “Every day they made sure I was okay. I had my own room and a comfortable bed, and I slept so well.”
Annette ate three meals daily, participated in groups and did a lot of painting which she found healing. While at BHSC, she was able to re-secure housing which was a critical step. Annette’s new apartment is located close to NextChapter, allowing her easy access to attend classes and receive support during the week.
Exploring classes and finding purpose
Attending classes at NextChapter gives Annette purpose which contributes to her well-being. At NextChapter, Annette currently attends classes for typing, nutrition, gratitude, nutrition, exercise and reading.
“My classes help me get through the day,” Annette said. “Each day I come here, it gets better and better.”
Annette also enjoys NextChapter because of the community and the opportunity to have a cooked meal for $1. She has experienced a lot of loss and accompanying grief in her life, and she said the community at NextChapter has helped her through the hard times.
Annette is proud that she has an apartment to live in now and she intends to do everything she can to keep it. The sense of stability that a home provides is something that Annette has been missing in her life.
The vital importance of community mental health services
Annette’s story is one example of how the services provided by community mental health centers can provide continuity of care for people experiencing homelessness and subsequent crises.
Annette says she is a different person because of the services she has received through WellPower. “I love WellPower, everything about it is amazing,” said Annette. “I don’t know where I would be without the help of my counselor at NextChapter. And I am so grateful for the Behavioral Health Solutions Center for being so caring.”