United Way of Greater Atlanta

05/10/2019 | Press release | Archived content

The Mental Health Ripple Effect

05-10-2019 ·Health·Healthy Communities

When Kelly first sought help, she thought she only needed access to economic resources to solve the challenges she was facing.

Kelly's housing situation was unstable, and she struggled to maintain participation in a vocational training program - this was worsened by tumultuous relationships with her mother and her son. While the immediate need for shelter and financial assistance was clear, Kelly was hesitant to admit her mental health needed to be addressed as well.

She was unlikely to seek mental health support independently, so Kelly was referred to United Way of Greater Atlanta's Healthy Communities Primary Care Access Fund. The program provides funding to charitable clinics in rural counties like Coweta, Fayette and Henry to help increase access to critical health services for uninsured and underinsured populations. Additionally, funding supports health care access for women and children in domestic violence shelters.

Though she was reluctant at first, Kelly was willing to participate in therapy after receiving age- and culturally-appropriate, home-centered services.

The therapeutic case manager was then able to establish a rapport with Kelly by encouraging her to discuss strategies to help support her mother. Kelly gained an increased understanding of the ways her mother's mental health challenges impacted her own emotional health.

Ultimately, these conversations led her to address her own emotional challenges with anger management, lack of trust, fear of abandonment and limited ability to set healthy boundaries with her son. Through counseling and persistent practice, she developed skills to communicate her feelings, frustrations and thoughts in a constructive manner.

The mental health services she received caused a ripple effect of positive change in Kelly's life. She mended relationships with her family and peers, which helped her become more successful at home, in school and in the workforce.

Today, Kelly is thriving because she benefited from mental health services, along with housing stability, parenting education and case management services.

She secured an apartment, obtained affordable childcare, graduated from the vocational program and completed an internship that led to permanent full-time employment. Kelly also successfully re-established a healthier connection with her mother and transitioned into permanent housing with her son in March 2018.

Thanks to United Way's integrated approach, Kelly can now contribute to building an improved life for herself, her child and our community to improve Child Well-Being in Greater Atlanta.