Tag Archives: mental illness

Homeless Count

by Dr. Chad Audi

It’s that time of year again. Time to get a count of the nation’s homeless. The 2016 Point-in- Time Count just took place across the country. Tens of thousands of volunteers went out one night in January looking for the men, women and children who call the streets their home.

In addition to keeping a count, the volunteers attempt to get the homeless to seek shelter and assistance. But, if they refuse and insist on their freedom, the volunteers provide them with life-saving items such as blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, socks, food, and hygiene kits.

The homeless who do accept the offer are taken to shelters like ours, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). They can warm up, get a hot meal and shower, clean clothes and a bed to sleep in overnight. However, some of the homeless return to the streets the next morning with no interest in finding transitional and permanent housing or treating their mental health and substance abuse issues. For some, a fear of authority and obeying rules sends them back to their outdoor home.

In addition to searching the streets, the Point-in-Time Count volunteers look for the homeless in shelters and vehicles parked in 24-hour store parking lots. Any place where the homeless may go to hide from the cold and authorities.

The purpose of this one day count is to get a better picture of the extent of homelessness in this country. The data is collected and used for the allocation of federal grants to help provide housing and case management services for the homeless.

Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and that’s why we at DRMM work so diligently to provide the homeless with the tools they need to permanently escape life on the streets and become productive citizens sharing in the American Dream.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Housing the Homeless

by Dr. Chad Audi

Winter is just around the corner, and I can’t help but think back to last winter and the harsh weather conditions we experienced. Extended periods of frigid temperatures and snowstorms paralyzed much of the country. It was truly a winter unlike any we’ve seen in a while.

Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), our shelters were filled beyond capacity as the homeless sought refuge from the severe winter blast. If the next few months are anything like that again, I am sure we will witness the same reaction from the area’s homeless. And, who can blame them?

In the meantime, a 2010 federal strategic plan designed to prevent and end homelessness is showing some progress in getting the homeless off the street. The comprehensive Opening Doors strategy developed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness aims to end veterans and chronic homelessness by 2015, and to end homelessness among families, children and youth by 2020.

Opening Doors centers around an idea called “Housing First,” which focuses on finding permanent housing immediately for the homeless. Putting a roof over their heads is considered priority one. Once they are properly housed, then the focus shifts to addressing their personal issues, such as substance abuse, mental health treatment, or unemployment.

While I applaud any effort that gets us closer to wiping out homelessness, DRMM is a firm believer in first treating the whole person who comes to us for help. Only after the addiction has been overcome or new job skills are learned to make them employable again or God becomes an integral part of their lives, can the formerly homeless maintain hope and become productive citizens on a permanent basis.

Without a doubt, the path to ending homelessness must engage a combination of housing, healthcare, education, job training, and other human service programs.

Meanwhile, DRMM awaits the winter weather — prepared to shelter all who come to our doors seeking a safe and warm haven from the cold.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Caring for our Veterans

by Dr. Chad Audi

Have you thanked a veteran today? In this busy, “hurry-up” world that we live in, people may not take the time to regularly acknowledge the sacrifices of our military veterans who put their lives on the line for our country. Of course, there’s Memorial Day in May and Veteran’s Day in November that are set aside for this purpose. But, our veterans deserve recognition every day.

A recent study by the non-profit Rand Corporation shows there are more than 1.1 million Americans who are attentive to veterans’ needs every day. They are the caregivers who are caring for veterans who were injured or disabled since the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. These caregivers are wives, husbands, parents and friends. They assist the veterans with bathing, eating, managing finances, making medical appointments, and many other tasks that you and I take for granted each day.

In addition to physical injuries, veterans may struggle with emotional and behavioral problems or mental health issues. Others are living on the street with no home or job.

Here at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have teamed up with the Detroit Training Center to offer job training to homeless veterans so that they can get on the road to financial growth and independence. The veterans are enrolled in our “Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.” Under this new collaboration, they can receive free training in a variety of construction-related careers, such as asbestos abatement contractor or supervisor, forklift operator, and aerial lift operator. Upon successful completion of the program, we will assist the veterans in finding jobs.

It’s only right that we service those who served us.

Dr. Chad Audi

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Help for the Mentally Ill

by Dr. Chad Audi 

Anyone who has been reading national news headlines lately is painfully aware of what appears to be a spike in mass tragedies across the country. In many cases, the victims and suspects are relatives or acquaintances. In other cases, such as the recent deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, the 23-year-old perpetrator had delusions that caused him to target Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. Although we don’t know for certain the motives behind all of these recent violent attacks, mental illness is sadly often an underlying cause.

We, as a nation, cannot afford to continue to push mental health care into the background. Many states have made massive budget cuts over the past years that negatively impact mental health care and treatment.

Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we provide treatment for the mentally ill who have been living on the streets and now seek shelter and food at our facilities. Often, their mental illness has led to their homelessness, and left untreated the illness tends to worsen because of the person’s circumstances. Some homeless individuals have “dual diagnosis,” meaning they have a mental illness as well as an addiction. It is impossible for these clients to become productive citizens again without the proper mental health care.

DRMM’s caring doctors, nurses, counselors and case managers are dedicated to restoring our clients’ dignity and respect. We treat them like human beings, no matter where they came from and no matter what circumstances led to their homelessness. We care for them, surround them with love, show them there is hope, give them that hope, and show them the path to reaching their goals.

Granted, a lot of the responsibility lies within them. Whether it is sticking to treatment regimens or having the willpower to say no to drugs and alcohol, these individuals must make up their minds to do what it takes to make a positive change in their lives.

Although statistics show a strong relationship between homelessness and mental illness, let me be perfectly clear: Everyone suffering from mental illness is not violent. In fact, the majority are no threat to anyone other than themselves.

Nevertheless, we cannot turn our backs on them.

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Homeless Numbers Drop

by Dr. Chad Audi

I read with interest the recent news that the number of homeless Americans has steadily dropped since 2005. According to a study by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the number of homeless people has quietly fallen by 17-percent. The drop comes despite the nation’s recession and a slow recovery in the job market.

Although on the surface this is encouraging news, the fact remains that the total number of homeless Americans stood at an estimated 634,000 individuals last year. I’m sure no one would argue that number is still staggering. However, it does represent a drop of nearly 130,000 people over seven years.

Another amazing statistic comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The agency reports that since 2009 there has been a 17-percent reduction in the number of homeless military veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says it is on track to meet its daunting goal of ending homelessness for veterans by 2015.

So what do these statistics tell us? It tells us that our poorest citizens are slowly getting a foothold in the economy. Some of the decline can be attributed to President Barack Obama’s stimulus programs that poured more federal money into housing, medical and mental services, and preventative measures.

Of course, we all hope this decrease in American homelessness continues. However, sequestration is already threatening to reverse the downward trend. Federal spending reductions impact organizations like ours, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), and the homeless individuals we serve.

DRMM continues to see a steady stream of individuals who are in need of shelter, food, clothing and job readiness. Some are homeless because of economic circumstances. Others have substance abuse and mental health issues that keep them chronically homeless. We believe the only way to put an end to homelessness is to treat individuals holistically. We treat their minds, bodies and souls. It’s not enough to just give the homeless a handout. We are rebuilding lives by providing life’s necessities and training our clients to become self-sufficient and productive citizens.

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A Safe Haven for Veterans

By Dr. Chad Audi

Today is Veterans Day and the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) salutes the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country’s freedom.  Last month, we advanced our efforts to serve Greater Detroit’s homeless and disadvantaged veterans population by celebrating the grand opening of a $1.4 million transitional housing center for homeless veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The facility can house sixty veterans in beautifully-furnished, one-bedroom apartment units. In addition to giving the veterans a place to live, we are providing them with access to many other services that will help with their physical, mental and spiritual growth and recovery. Our goal is to help the veterans re-integrate successfully into the community after returning from the war-torn nations.

It is a disgrace for veterans to risk their lives for our nation’s freedom and then come home and have no place to live and no access to healthcare and mental health services. It is truly a heartbreaking situation. The armed forces will not let mentally and physically unfit people join their ranks, so we should be quick to help returning veterans fit into society after their lives have been forever changed by the stress and aggression of war.

DRMM established the Veterans Independence Program many years ago in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide housing, support services and job skills to the homeless men and women who served in the armed forces. Our new transitional housing program builds upon that commitment to our national heroes. The newly-renovated facility was made possible through the generous support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Ford Motor Company Fund, and numerous private donors.

We want our supporters to know that the Detroit Rescue Mission will always preserve the dignity and respect of all people who come to us for assistance. We know that bad things happen for various reasons — a tough economy, unemployment or underemployment, chronic addictions, mental illness, medical issues, or psychological trauma brought on by fighting in a war. We wholeheartedly believe that every person deserves another chance and another chance and another chance, if necessary. Plus, everyone has a right to receive quality support services. Especially the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for our country.

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Help for Military Families

By Dr. Chad Audi

President Obama has pledged increased support for the families of U.S. military members. Earlier this week, the president released a detailed report outlining fifty specific commitments that address a variety of issues ranging from homelessness to mental health to spousal employment. It is a government-wide effort involving all cabinet agencies.

It’s great to see President Obama take an unprecedented and sweeping approach to improving the quality of life for military families. Sadly, we know that too many U.S. service members fall into hard times when they return home from serving our country. In fact, the president stressed that perhaps one of the most important commitments is to end homelessness among veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates 107,000 veterans are homeless in this country on any given night.

Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we have a special program to help homeless veterans find housing, address health issues, treat substance abuse addiction, advance their education, and learn job skills. Counseling is a key component for the veterans who come to DRMM, along with follow-up services to help them successfully overcome any obstacles to independence and stability.

The president’s plan also places a heavy emphasis on counseling for military families who are more vulnerable to stress when a parent is deployed. The U.S. Department of Defense notes that more than two million service members have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. The White House report details a marked increase in behavioral health issues among the young children of military parents.

The White House report is titled, “Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment.” That indeed is an appropriate title. Our country should be committed to taking care of U.S. service members’ families, while they put their lives on the line defending our nation. And that far-reaching support must continue for the troops themselves when they come home.

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