Posted by Elysse Nava

Sabrina*, an adult living with mental illness, and her family were referred to JF&CS by the hospital she was being discharged from following a psychotic episode in the community. Sabrina was coping with feelings of depression and guilt about her psychotic episode, not being able to work, and being faced with needing assistance with public benefits in addition to the symptoms of her major mental illness. Her personal goals seemed like insurmountable obstacles. Before her psychotic episode, she had held a full-time job in a professional setting. Now, Sabrina was at square one, unable to return to work and to the place where she was living; she felt stuck.

I worked with Sabrina to create a plan that detailed the goals that she wished to achieve. This service plan is fluid and when one goal was achieved, if Sabrina had a new goal, we would add it. Initially, I assisted Sabrina with her basic needs: helping her find a place to live and apply for public benefits, including MassHealth, Social Security Disability, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). During the two years we worked together, I helped Sabrina maintain and navigate these benefits.

Sabrina was anxious to return to work, however her mental health providers thought that returning to work prematurely could negatively impact her recovery process. I provided supportive counseling to Sabrina to help her reach her goal of returning to work by emphasizing her strengths and all of the progress she had made up until that point. When the time came that Sabrina was able to return to work part time, we practiced interviewing, prepared her resume, and came up with a plan for applying to jobs.

Recently, Sabrina re-entered the workforce on a full-time basis in the same professional setting that she had left when we first met. As she accomplished her goals, she needed my support less and less. Before we closed her case, I made sure Sabrina understood that our phone line was always open to her.

We rely on the client’s desire to change their own situation. As case managers, we equip our clients with the tools to succeed on their own. Sabrina is just one of many clients who benefited from our program, and I’m grateful she chose JF&CS to begin her journey of stabilization and recovery with regards to her mental illness.

*Named changed to protect privacy.

Elysse Nava, LICSW joined Jewish Family & Children’s Service in April 2012 as a Clinical Case Manager in Stabilization and Recovery Services. In this capacity, she has assisted individuals living with mental illness in attaining their self-identified goals. Prior to JF&CS, her roles in the mental health field included providing community-based outpatient therapy as a staff therapist for South Bay Mental Health Center and as a guardianship social worker in New York City. Elysse graduated from New York University in 2009 with her MSW and from Skidmore College with her BSW.

Originally published on the JF&CS blog.