Our New Mental Health Program
Last month we shared the launch of our new mental health program and a registry list of donations needed. This month we’d like to share a little bit more about the program itself. We asked a few questions of Leslie Fritjofsen who is heading the program.
Can you please describe the purpose of the Mental Health program?
“The purpose of the Mental Health program is to add an additional support to the clients while they continue to undergo the hardships of their unsheltered life, and to provide a calm and safe environment for the clients to release their unspoken words and feelings in a way that is beneficial [to] their personal growth and aims them towards a more fulfilling, emotionally healthy future.”
Please explain the need for this program and how it will help push forward SALT’s overall mission. “There is a great need for mental health counseling for our unsheltered population. Our unsheltered friends face emotional and physical hardships daily in ways that many of us who have not experienced homelessness cannot identify with. Imagine countless nights of restless sleep for fear that someone may attack you or attempt to steal the few items you have. Imagine trying to find a place to lay your head down but consistently being asked to find another place to sleep. Imagine living in the Florida elements with no end in sight. Imagine all of these things while: struggling with past/present trauma, holding on to deep shame, feeling consistently unloved and unworthy, or clenching onto a secret that you refuse to bring to the light for fear of being unloved.
Our clients often have faced difficulties with maintaining transportation for consistent appointment upkeep with offsite providers, and also do not typically have access to the technology/devices or quiet space to hold telehealth sessions. I am excited to provide this service onsite at the Christian Service Center (CSC) where a large majority of our unsheltered population are familiar with and visit often. This will allow them to maintain counseling appointments, as they do various other appointments, on the CSC campus.
The overall mission for SALT is ‘to share Christ’s love by serving the unsheltered through comprehensive mobile drop-in centers.’ Sharing Christ’s love is what SALT does on a daily basis, from my observation. By providing a non-judgmental and empathetic approach to our clients, the Mental Health program will be furthering this mission to share Christ’s love. Adding the Mental Health program will also elevate SALT from a ‘day service center’ model to a ‘comprehensive drop-in center’ model, which falls in line with SALT”s goal.”
What is the process for a guest to go through the program? Is it for a certain amount of time, or will it be set up similarly to traditional counseling?
“The Mental Health program currently operates like traditional counseling. This means that there is no set amount of sessions for a client to complete before finishing the program. But there will be set goals being evaluated as progress is made. As we all know, emotional growth and healing is not linear, and we want to hold space for the natural process to take place without time constraints. Currently, clients are being referred through SALT services (case management or other SALT staff-to-client relationships).”
What are some of your goals for the program? “The first goal is to provide clients with a calm and safe space for them to share unspoken hurts of their past and receive support while healing and moving towards a life lived more abundantly. Currently my second goal is to implement Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in therapy with individuals. I am trained in this revolutionary therapeutic technique which allows a client to process traumatic memories in a way that leads to healing. EMDR was first developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for the military, but is now widely used to treat depression, anxiety, panic and PTSD in civilians. To learn more about EMDR, visit https://www.emdria.org/.
My third goal is to continue providing the Expressive Arts Group, which is held bi-weekly on Wednesdays, and to facilitate other groups on the Wednesdays in between. Our clients have loved the Expressive Arts Group! It’s been a blessing to see our clients have a moment to take it slow, learn grounding techniques, and create with their hands.”
How can supporters of SALT help you build this program?
“First and foremost, please keep this program lifted in prayer. Additionally, I would greatly appreciate financial donations for art supplies! I hope to soon provide a list of needed art supplies that donors can refer to and purchase as a donation. Until then, financial donations are welcome. If you have any art supplies that you would like to donate, please let us know what they are and if we may be able to utilize them. Financial support for ongoing training for myself as a growing therapist is also greatly appreciated.”
WANT TO GET INVOLVED? Donate to support this cause here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/salt-outreach-inc