Ronald’s Trek to Mental Health

ShelterCare Behavioral Health program participant, Ronald, grew up in the rural parts of Oregon where it is more difficult to find mental health services, “I’ve had insomnia my entire life, and the best solution I could get there (Klamath Falls) or in La Pine was “we got a phonebook (to read),” he explains, “Have you ever heard of a sleeping pill? They never notice if you have anxiety or depression…and they were the professionals.”

Ronald has been in Eugene now for 12 years, 11 of which he has been with ShelterCare, “I went to WhiteBird and was connected (to ShelterCare) by the therapist I was seeing there,” he explains about the referral process, “ShelterCare was the first program I got into after WhiteBird and I stayed with it because they were a really great support group for me.”

ShelterCare’s Behavioral Health program provides mental health treatment to individuals diagnosed with a mental health condition, including trauma disorders, which often are related to the trauma and stress of homelessness. Current services include individual and group therapy, skills training, case management, telehealth, and healthcare coordination.

Ronald explains how these multifaceted services have helped him, “I was with ShelterCare for a year before my social security started coming in, then they became my payee, which was useful because I am, and always have been, terrible at managing money. If it wasn’t for them (ShelterCare), I would have no money.”

ShelterCare’s therapy program has worked wonders for Ronald, “Unlike other therapists, she’s (Linet, his therapist) actually been able to break through to me, which is usually difficult. It usually takes a long time,” he says.

Ronald lives in his own apartment with his cat, “Her name is Sweet Pea. She’s a tortoise shell,” he says. Recently, there have been some issues with people blocking the entrance to the complex and loitering, “They were hanging out there overnight and not letting tenants in,” Ronald describes, “I have social anxiety, I don’t like being around people and I know other people there (his apartment complex) have the same problems.”

It can be extremely difficult for someone experiencing a mental disability to handle situations like this, but with the encouragement of Ronald’s therapist Linet, and his skills trainer, Lizzy, he says he found success speaking up for himself and other tenants, “I eventually went and talked to someone who worked on-site about doing some things that would probably help. I was able to connect with her…just reaching out like that is a stretch for me because usually, I don’t even want to leave my apartment. Since that time, they put up a fence and we now have locked gates!”

Linet has worked at ShelterCare for a total of 33 years. She says she sticks around because of the unique experiences she has each day and the support of her coworkers, “my favorite parts of working at ShelterCare are that we work as a team, and support each other in the work; and that there is never a dull moment, there is always something new to learn, something new to experience.”

M’Ress, One of Ronald’s Favorite Star Trek Characters

Being stably housed and connected to the behavioral health services he needs allows Ronald the time and space to enjoy what he loves: watching science fiction, particularly Star Trek, with his cat! He excitedly explained, “I like science fiction – Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Stargate…I watched Equinox part 1 and 2 (episodes from Star Trek: Voyager) before coming in today! I just found a Star Trek Channel on Pluto TV – not that I don’t own the originals on DVD, including the one you may never have seen: The Animated Series. It’s a classic! I particularly like M’Ress; she’s a cat woman!”

Ronald says he is thankful for what ShelterCare has done to help him, and many others, create a safe and stable life for themselves, “It (ShelterCare) has helped a lot of people. I think it would be good if the public knew more about what ShelterCare does for people who have been homeless and have mental issues to get them into housing, to get them off the streets, and to help them get on track.” Last year, ShelterCare helped over 1,800

individuals move forward on their journey toward housing stability and independence.

Like a true fan, Ronald says, in regards to his goal for the future, “Star Trek: Picard is out Wednesday, I’ll be watching that!”

You can make a difference in lives like Ronald’s. Support from a therapist like Linet has changed his life forever. Your donation will help us provide behavioral health services to more individuals and continue moving our program participants forward in personal growth. Will you support ShelterCare by making a donation today?

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