Tonight, approximately 811 people will sleep homeless in Tulsa. About 33% of them also have mental illnesses that are not treated. Many have struggled for years to become stable and many find it hard to do so because they are just coming out of prisons, jails, hospitals and mental health facilities with nowhere to go.
Family & Children’s Services (FCS) has been serving Tulsa’s homeless for over 15 years and has developed several mental health care programs for the homeless. Community-wide outreach teams serve in a mental health clinic co-located in the Salvation Army’s downtown location, in Iron Gate, in the Tulsa City-County Library, and onsite at the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma’s supportive housing, the Tulsa Housing and Recovery Program (THARP).
Tulsa’s homeless community benefits from FCS’ service mix of case finding, case management, care coordination, linkage with community resources, mental health and addiction treatment, along with psychiatry and medication management. In 2016, FCS’s homeless services helped 973 clients with 12,669 services.
“I don’t know how I made it all these years without FCS. People there are concerned about your well being, and get you the medications and help you need. I am an example of how services work.” -FCS client
FCS continues its commitment to be actively involved in homeless coordination efforts among numerous local organizations and collaborations including the Point-in-Time count, and A Way Home for Tulsa coalition.
SALVATION ARMY CENTER OF HOPE
FCS established its first community mental health site in 2001 to help with the many factors surrounding homelessness in Tulsa. The site opened on location at the Salvation Army Center of Hope. Clients are provided with an array of services including:
- Case Management
- Individual Counseling
- Group Rehab
- Group Counseling
- Mental Health Screening
- Job Application Assistance
- Risk Assessments
- Re-Entry Services (for those reentering society after incarceration)
FCS recently expanded its homeless outreach services by placing a case manager at IronGate to provide services to homeless individuals frequenting the soup kitchen and grocery pantry.
Mackenzie Jackson talked about her experience at Iron Gate, “What I find really valuable about being at Iron Gate is being able to build an ongoing relationship and rapport with guests so that they begin to feel comfortable enough to begin asking questions. Many have reservations about seeking help, whether it is for practical resources or for mental health help, and being able to explain to them what we do at Family & Children’s Services and dispel any fears that they might have. I reassure them that I would never refer them to somewhere that I didn’t trust. That is the main function of my role.”
Jackson is a familiar face and her ability to build rapport with those most in need of mental health resources allows her to break through to those who are also resistant to finding help.
John was one of the lucky ones. As a platoon leader, many of his men were killed during his tour. Once home, his survivor’s guilt was stifled by street drugs, and his povery led to a life in shelters and the streets. Depressed and hungry, John found food at Iron Gate and met a member of the Family & Children’s Services Homeless Outreach Team. At first, he was adamantly against mental health services, but after several conversations he finally opened up about his fear of treatment. Today, John has been housed and clean for several weeks. He attends meetings daily and applies for jobs. He said he feels healthy again.
Building rapport with guests is one of the many reasons FCS’s homeless outreach is making an impact in Tulsa.
TULSA CITY-COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM
Located in the Tulsa Central library, you will find Deborah Hunter, FCS case manager with the homeless outreach team.
Read more about Hunter in the Tulsa World.
Hunter said, “A lot of times people assume that if someone is homeless and has a mental illness that the family has abandoned them, and that’s not the case at all in many instances. For someone who has severe behavioral issues, sometimes the family can’t deal with those issues. They don’t have the capabilities.”
THARP’s goal is to maintain housing for the formerly homeless by reducing substance dependence, improving mental health and reducing trauma effects. With the financial support of the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, the FCS THARP therapist helps the formerly homeless stay housed and provides therapy and case management services in clients’ residences as well as linkage to resources and benefits, such as primary medical care and Supplemental Security Income. Clients’ recovery is facilitated by the use of therapeutic practices to treat trauma, substance abuse and mental illness. Group sessions are provided in part to promote much-needed socialization to help clients adjust to permanent housing.
FCS primarily serves a diverse and underserved population of low-income and uninsured individuals, children and families experiencing a variety of behavioral health and family problems. Improving outcomes and establishing trusting relationships through continued contact with Tulsa’s homeless is our goal.
To learn more about our Adult Mental Health Outpatient Services, click HERE.