Chad came in for services at Fairbanks Community Mental Health Services last summer. At the time, he was on the verge of complete homelessness – living in an old motel that had been shut down and abandoned because it was caving in, more or less.
He’d been on the decline for about five years, ever since the former Fairbanks behavioral health center went bankrupt: he got disconnected from services and discontinued his medication. He rarely went outside: getting to FCMHS on his own to get services was too hard. Eventually another client and friend helped him come in for an intake appointment.
Now, Chad is back on his medication and back in therapy. And he has a case manager, Wanda Naffziger, who he describes as a “lifesaver”. She helped him get on food stamps and on disability – and helped him find new housing with funding help from SSVF – Supportive Services for Veterans Families, another lifesaver.
Chad says he’s “taking it one step at a time. I’m afraid to look too far into the future, I’m not ready for that.” One goal is to finish applying for veterans benefits. He says he’s always had a lot of guilt about that because his issues aren’t combat related. Staff at FCMHS have helped him come to see those thoughts have more to do with his low self-esteem than what benefits he’s entitled to for his years of service.
Staff at FCMHS are impressed with the progress he’s made, happy to see him out walking around town. He’s predictably a little more modest. “I go to the store. I’m not completely useless by myself. But if it comes to something different, it’s still exceedingly difficult, especially if there’s a lot of people.”
Chad feels like he has the support he needs to take some next steps right now, but he says he’ll always need that support. “If I got disconnected from services, I’d fall again. Ever since this started, every time I go out of services, I get worse again the next time.”
Fairbanks Community Mental Health Services intends to continuing providing support just as long as it needed.