Christopher’s Path to Wellness, Paved with Support from our AOT Program

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Christopher was referred to Caminar’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program after psychiatric hospitalization following an altercation with his family. He didn’t believe he had a mental illness and wasn’t able to define why he had been hospitalized.

Christopher is a young man struggling to come to terms with mental illness and delusional thoughts, thoughts that sometimes convinced him the world was against him. He feels isolated, socially awkward, and ashamed for the dark thoughts in his head.

Our AOT program assists San Mateo County residents with severe mental illness as they transition from inpatient care to outpatient living. The program provides 24/7 intensive mental health services, housing support, and life skill development for Christopher and others like him.

The path to mental health and wellness, however, isn’t a straight line. Christopher had been moving forward in his recovery, until one day when he experienced a setback and destroyed property at his parents’ home. This time, he did not find himself in the hospital. Since he was connected with Caminar’s AOT Program, his Caminar caseworker jumped into action, meeting with him immediately to provide a mental health assessment and establish additional support

His caseworker helped Christopher to stabilize and avoid another hospitalization. Together they created a safety plan, and the caseworker offered support both to Christopher and his family. Most importantly, the caseworker built trust with him and encouraged him to reach out whenever he needs help in order to prevent a crisis in the future.

Christopher is still connected with Caminar. He recently graduated from AOT and stepped down to our New Ventures case management program, which provides lower intensity mental health case management services. Christopher continues to move toward wellness and recovery. And, the AOT program is proving its intended value to help those who struggle to live safely in the community.

Recent San Mateo County data, as highlighted in a story in the Climate Online, indicate the AOT program is working.

After a year in the program, clients saw

  • 66% reduction in the number of days spent in jail

  • 13% drop in homelessness

  • 50% reduction in episodes of hospitalization

Length of hospital stays also reduced significantly, from 252 days prior to the program to 96 after. Episodes of psychiatric emergency services dropped from 35 to 21.

Such reductions in jail time, emergency response, and hospital services have saved the county considerable money. And, the services and care provided allow Christopher and other vulnerable neighbors to move toward wellness and live in the community with dignity.

Caminar launched the AOT program in August 2016. The program uses the Full Service Partnership’s “whatever it takes” approach to support individuals with serious mental health conditions to move toward wellness, recovery, and independence.

From Hospitalization to Home: Tina’s Journey to Recovery

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Earlier this year, Tina* entered treatment at Caminar immediately upon discharge from the hospital. She had been referred to our San Mateo County Region’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program, which provides intensive treatment and support for adults with severe mental illness who are disconnected from the mental health system. 

Tina had been living with roommates who were actively engaged in unhealthy lifestyles, and she had been heavily abusing substances. Her mental and physical health were in a fragile state.

At Caminar, Tina began working regularly and diligently with a psychiatrist and a case manager. And, she enrolled in an outpatient substance use treatment program. 

With the newfound support and compassionate care, Tina regained her resilience and began to rebuild her life. She invested the time and work to become clean and sober,  and her mental and physical health improved. Now, she is living with family, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, working towards securing employment, and committed to the journey of recovery. 

*Name changed to protect client privacy.

Butte Region Updates and Celebrations

On Tuesday, November 20, our CEO, Chip Huggins, visited our Butte Region for a full day of updates, meetings, and celebrations. 

To kick off the day, Chip met with Butte County Department of Behavioral Health Assistant Director, Don Taylor. The two touched base on the status of programs and shared agency updates. Chip next met with Harry Ellis and Gina Muse from the Department of Rehabilitation. The three reviewed to current caseloads and discussed the referral process from the DoR to Caminar.

After his meetings, Chip toured Sensible Cyclery, one of our social enterprises, and chatted with crew members and Avenida tenants. Next, Chip held an all-staff meeting and provided agency updates, answered staff questions and listened to client stories. After the staff meeting, Chip joined our Friendship Circle Thanksgiving Feast. He even carved the turkey for clients, who delighted in his presence and the delicious food. 

A fitting end to the day, Chip joined the staff for dinner. All enjoyed spending time with colleagues outside of the office and celebrating the start of the holiday season.

Butte Region clients and staff greatly appreciated and enjoyed the visit and look forward to more visits, updates, and celebrations in the coming year.