Life-Saving Turnaround With Metro’s Mental Health Services
As Metropolitan Family Services and human services providers throughout Illinois continue to emphasize the need for a balanced budget and restored human services funding, the latter is vitally needed for areas such as psychiatric care, which is central to the 9,984 clients receiving Metropolitan’s mental health services.
These services can literally transform clients’ lives. Following is the story of Angela Love, who graduated this year from Metropolitan’s Adult Mental Health program.
My name is Angela Love, and I’m a former client of Metropolitan Family Services’ Adult Mental Health Program at its Southeast Chicago Center.
It is absolutely essential that state funding for psychiatric care be restored. Psychiatrists are central to the mental health services that helped save my life and have empowered me to help others.
When I was a young adult I survived two rape attempts. In 2008, two men broke into my home while I was there. Then in 2010, I lost my unborn child when I was 16 weeks pregnant. I have been traumatized ever since. I was depressed for months, and stayed in bed all day. I wouldn’t eat. But one day I said, Lord, this is not of you. So I had to get up, which was the hard part. I walked downstairs, got cleaned up and said, OK, let me make this call. I knew where to go. Metropolitan Family Services has helped me so much to get through what I experienced.
Metropolitan saw me right away. I felt safe there. The first thing they had me do was talk to a psychiatrist. They gave me a therapist, and they recommended classes, including one on post-traumatic stress. I took the classes. My doctor said I needed medication. I told him I didn’t want to be a zombie. But he said medication and therapy would help me. He was right. I was a mess when I started treatment. If the doctor had not put me on medication I would not be where I am today. But three years later I’m no longer on meds, and I’m happy.
Seeing my psychiatrist once a month, going to therapy twice a week, and attending my group sessions 2-3 times a week – that’s what helped me. I learned about new tools. I learned about the triggers that made me sad. I used to cry, cry, cry. Now I don’t cry anymore.
I still feel violated in a way. But I’m able to deal with it, I don’t feel like a victim; I feel like a survivor.
When I came to Metropolitan I used everything they had to offer, and it was wonderful. It’s so freeing … it’s like a burden has been lifted. It’s hard to explain, but when you’re able to overcome something, it’s amazing. I graduated from the mental health program this summer and I’m so happy.
If you work the program, you will succeed. Too many people at Metropolitan want you to succeed for you to fail. I’ve never seen a place where everyone is rooting for you to do well.
I’ve been asked to become a peer mentor. I’m taking classes to become certified; my last class is in November. I love people, and I want them to be OK. I want to bring a grief and loss ministry to my church. And grief doesn’t just happen when you lose a loved one. Losing a house, losing a job – you wonder, ‘How am I going to cope?’ You need somebody you can talk to, and feel safe when you’re talking to them.
Since there is no state budget at this time – and funding for psychiatric care is not being provided – Metropolitan Family Services cannot accept any new unfunded mental health clients. In addition, the number of Medicaid clients it can accept is limited. That means that many people who desperately need support can’t get it.
I was at a low end when I came to Metropolitan, but with their help I’ve started a new life, and I’m helping others to do the same. I can’t bear to imagine where I would be if I had not been able to get the support I needed.
I’ll end by saying that doctors are essential to mental health. You simply can’t provide mental health care without providing access to mental health professionals who are trained in psychiatry.
We must ensure that funding for mental health services is restored.