Re-entry, Finding Mental Health Resources to Help You.
Tranquility is Important
Helping Yourself Get Help
Did you know that in the State of Missouri, approximately 85% of all prisoners have addiction issues, and approximately 16% have Mental Health issues. There is often overlap of both issues. When an offender is released on parole, at least in Missouri, they usually have appointments set up to continue mental health services in the community that they will live in. Another practice is that they are provided a 30 day supply of all psychotropic medications that they were taking in prison. These two things alone have helped reduce recidivism rates in Missouri impressively.
What happens though, when an already over worked system, as the mental health clinics usually are, can not provide services to the parolee until after their 30 day supply is gone? There are a number of options available, and I am going to focus mainly on the Kansas City area because that is the area I know best.
First and foremost, in Kansas City, as well as many other cities, there is the 211 social help call system. It is kindred to the 911 emergency help system. It can be called from any pay phone, cell phone or land line, and to the best of my knowledge, there is no charge. You will speak to a live person, they will ask you what city you are calling from, and what your need is. They will then peruse a number of listings they have and provide you with the name, address and number of several agencies in your community that can help. Make sure you have a pen and paper ready when you call.
A second possibility is the emergency room at the local Mental Health Hospital. This is not an option to be over used or abuse, but in a pinch it can be a life saver. Many clients who are mentally ill have major side effects if they suddenly stop taking their medications. Some are quite serious. If you are very low on medications, you need to take every step possible to make sure you can get a refill. go to the emergency room and explain your situation, then ask that they help you by writing a refill prescription. You will have a fairly long wait in most cases, however hand in there, it is important and you know you need those medications if you are going to make it on parole.
There are a number of clinics and providers that offer services on a sliding scale which is very helpful and based on your income. They include, Truman Behavioral Health Care, Swope Health Care, Samuel Rogers, and the Kansas City Free Health Clinic. Most require a call first to see what you need to do to make a first appointment. Some have walk in clinics on a first come first served basis. Therefore, you will need to make sure you are up and at their door for approximately 8:00 am. Be prepared to wait for a while, you might get lucky and be seen fairly quickly, however, many of these providers are over run with clients needing help and can only do as much as is humanly possible. I have worked with these organizations while they have supported my clients, and I can attest their dedication and compassion towards their patients
This still leaves you with the need to get the prescription filled. If you have secured a job upon release from prison, then hopefully you will have enough money to pay for the medications. Many mentally ill people will qualify for medicaid assistance for their treatment, and medications. Check this option out as soon as you are able to. For those of you who do not have employment, insurance or money, there are a few services in the city that can still help you. Most of the clinics and providers listed above will help patients complete medicaid paperwork, or at least have a financial aid office that can help.
There are places in the community that assist with prescription costs and you can access their numbers using the 211 call in line, or by asking someone at the clinics. If you don't know what to do, please don't be afraid to ask. Simply walk in to one of the places, and ask to talk to their intake person, they can always point you in the right direction.
Remember, you can help yourself find what you need in the community. The clinics help people all the time, and although an appointment may be a few weeks out to see a psychiatrist, there are options for getting you medications filled to hold you over to that appointment. All you have to do is ASK!!!! I can not stress that enough. These workers have many many clients in the same boat you are in, they will know what to do, or at the very least, know who to ask, or where to send you to get some support.
Don't sit back and wait for someone to take care of your problems for you. The greatest success stories I can tell, are about clients that learned how to help themselves in the right ways. Be one of those people, who looks at a problem and knows that they have the ability, power and tools to handle it or find out how to.
Take care, and good luck. Believe in yourself, and value your freedom. Above all that though, give yourself the tool you need and the support you need to have a bright and promising future.