Victor is one of almost 700 clients served at Momentum in its two years of being at Rocky Mountain Human Services
Victor Rivas, a 57-year-old Durango resident, almost froze to death outside in January. At the time, he was homeless and living with untreated mental illness. Police found him by the mountains, close to death, and immediately sent him to a hospital to recover. He was transferred to an acute treatment center, where he received the mental health services he needed.
That’s when Momentum, a Rocky Mountain Human Services program, came into Victor’s life. The purpose of Momentum is to assist adults and children on a short-term basis in transitioning from mental health facilities, acute treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals into the community to find long-term stability.
Momentum’s dedicated staff worked with Victor to help him find a home, a stable job and assist him in settling into a consistent schedule.
Victor is one of nearly 700 clients served by Momentum, which in July celebrates its two-year anniversary with RMHS. The program began in 2012 and helps people thrive in the community after treatment. It can be a tough road.
“Sometimes people get lost in the cracks,” said Jamie DeNier, Victor’s Momentum care manager. Jamie worked with Victor, helping him transition back into his community after leaving the acute treatment center in Durango, where he had faced many challenges prior to getting treated.
Victor was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder at a young age. His very difficult family life left him with a legacy of trauma to work through. His struggles to transition into the community were exacerbated not only by his mental illness, but also because of his lack of understanding of some basic societal rules. He relies heavily on professional assistance in his life for support dealing with his mental health issues.
The Momentum care team helps people like Victor successfully find productive and healthy ways to integrate into their communities. Care managers work with each person to create a personalized care plan to fit their individual needs, build support systems, help find community resources and support them every step of the way. Both adults and children have the option to work with an RMHS peer bridger, who is a staffer who has lived experience with mental health issues and recovery and is there to provide unique support as people transition into the community.
Barriers to Transitioning
People exiting mental health facilities face multiple barriers as they work to transition into less restrictive care settings. Mental health facilities track these barriers to discharge for each person they serve. In studying these barriers, care managers are better able to identify gaps and help children, adolescents and adults get services to address their needs.
Statistics gathered between January and March 2020 (third quarter of fiscal year 2020) show that the most common barriers for adults 21 and older enrolled in Momentum were:
Lack of housing options
Independent living skills
In the same time period, statistics show the most common barriers for children and young people under the age of 21 enrolled in Momentum were:
Independent living skills
Figure 5. Barriers to Discharge for adults and children during the third quarter of fiscal year 2020
Over the past two years, data show the most common barriers to discharge for adults, children and adolescent have remained largely consistent.
Expenditures on Services
A large portion of Momentum’s funds are used to pay for client expenses to transition when exiting mental health facilities. The largest portion of the funds typically go toward rent and related expenses to support adults and children as they find new homes.
An expense breakdown for the period between January and March 2020 shows the most common expenses for adults 21 and up as:
Rent/ Residential Assistance 44.7%
Individual & Family Support 29.1%
Care Packages 10.8%
In the same time period, the most common expenses for children and adolescents under the age of 21 were:
Rent/ Residential Assistance 36.5%
Individual & Family Support 29.3%
Training & Education 14.2%
Watching data. Helping people.
Before entering the program, Victor was homeless, and the winter months put him at extreme risk. He had no stable source of income or natural support system he could depend on to keep him on track. To get stable, Victor needed help in filling his most basic needs, and for him that was housing and food.
Without housing and other basic needs, it becomes difficult to find a job in order to have consistent income to support everyday expenses, food, rent and more.
As Victor prepared to leave his treatment facility, his care manager, Jamie, provided financial support through Momentum and helped Victor find affordable housing. Jamie was even able to supply him with Walmart gift cards to furnish his apartment. The targeted funding has helped Victor find stability in his life and makes him feel good about himself. Jamie was able to help Victor receive food assistance, Social Security income, continued care and help from a long-term case manager with another organization.
“Jaimie helped me a lot,” Victor said.
The positive changes in Victor’s life worked like a domino effect. One good change led to another, and Jamie found that Victor gained the self-sufficiency he needed to make his appointments. He was even able to get rehired by a restaurant where he had worked previously.
“He now is on a consistent schedule and is making his payments for rent on his own,” Jamie said. She closed his case recently after being with the Momentum program for about five months.
As Momentum enters its third year at Rocky Mountain Human Services, we look forward to seeing the program’s continue growth and success. To learn more about the Momentum program please visit www.rmhumanservices.org/bh