When Fortune’s Better Living Center (BLC) opened in 2011, it was in response to a rising need for mental health treatment options in our community and a growing body of evidence touting the benefits of therapy for the justice-involved.
The BLC is a licensed outpatient mental health clinic that provides direct clinical services to Fortune participants in need of rehabilitative support and mental health care. Each participant receives person-centered care to address their unique and complex mental health needs by promoting behavioral strategies to cope with stressors of daily life and manage anger, anxiety and depression.
For the past 10 years, Fortune has created a space where mental health needs are not a barrier to reintegration for individuals with justice involvement. Individuals are able to participate in individual and group counseling, receive medication management, and obtain referrals to our other services like job training, educational support and substance use treatment.
One such participant and community member, Gerard, was able to access our BLC services after coming to Fortune. He participated in our six-month therapy program, and with the onset of COVID-19, continued working with his therapists remotely during the pandemic.
During this time, Gerard was also grieving the passing of his father. Through his sessions with his therapist, Gerard was able to come up with different strategies for coping with his grief. He also practices different meditations and breathing techniques to help with everyday anxiety.
Gerard has started attending group therapy sessions at the BLC. During these sessions, a small group of participants share personal experiences and offer feedback and advice. Often, the group participants get to know each other over time and feel comfortable opening up with one another.
Going forward, Gerard sees himself continuing therapy to help with the stressors of life after incarceration. For others with justice involvement, the BLC aids in the transition from jail or prison to their community.
For Gerard, the idea of being seen only as someone that has spent time behind bars was difficult. Oftentimes, society uses words like ‘felon’ or ‘convict’ to describe those with justice involvement. These types of labels can be hard to shed, as they seem to follow individuals throughout their life after incarceration. With the help of the BLC, Gerard has been able to work through feelings of shame or defeat.