Mental Health Month is a prime opportunity to create awareness of the hard realities faced by those walking the path to reentry who also face mental health challenges, as well as to highlight the resources, solutions, and organizations that are working together to bring hope and healing.
May has been recognized as Mental Health Month for nearly 75 years in the United States. The importance of mental health awareness continues to be a vital need—nearly twenty percent of all Americans experience mental illness or challenges. Mental health advocate Achea Redd said, “Mental health is health and deserves to be put on the forefront just like the other illnesses we recognize throughout the year. The more we put it out front, the less stigmatized and the more normalized it becomes."
Mental health is a notable contributing factor in many incarceration stories, as nearly two in five people who are incarcerated have a history of mental illness. This month, let’s take a closer look.
THE ROLE OF MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health disorders and challenges play a part in many incarcerations and subsequent incarcerations. These stories impact more than just one individual; they affect entire families and communities.
Women who have been incarcerated are more likely to face mental health disorders as well as substance abuse (often the result of mental health needs), which can place them at a higher risk for recidivism and relapse. Their need for treatment and support is vital for them as well as for their children—the majority of incarcerated women are a parent to one or more minors under 18 and have sole custody of their children. These mothers need support and resources to aid in recovery and healing so that they may build a better future for themselves and their children.
Our goal at The Way Back is always to help our clients walk the path to a brighter tomorrow for themselves as well as for future generations, a path that does not have to be dictated by their past struggles or mistakes. Unaddressed mental health needs combined with recidivism can have a devastating generational impact and contribute to a vicious cycle among our families and communities. The good news is that together, we can help to bring about change.
THE NEED FOR SUPPORT AND THE WAY BACK
A key factor in supporting someone with mental health challenges on their path to reentry is the ability to tailor support to specific needs. At The Way Back, we see each client as an individual and seek to serve them using individual plans that are developed using assessments and self-sufficiency measures. Our focus for our clients includes:
- Income, Employment, and Finances
- Education and Training
- Recidivism and Supervision Compliance
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Through our Women’s Reentry Initiative, we provide reentry support for women who have experienced substance abuse (often the result of mental health needs) and are returning to the community from incarceration. Case managers provide comprehensive wrap-around services, including self-sufficiency development and family reunification.
Through targeted support and intervention (which includes mental health needs), The Way Back is reducing recidivism, generational incarceration, and poverty in our communities in the State of Texas. We provide services through in-prison programs, a women’s reentry initiative, and a reentry program. We have conducted over 180 boot camps, served over 4,000 clients, and have seen the percentage of recidivism among The Way Back clients drop to 6 percent.
We are making a difference that will change the lives of multiple generations and communities, now, and into the future—an impact that will only grow with additional support.
JOIN US IN MAKING AND IMPACT
During Mental Health Month 2023 (and for the rest of the year) we invite you to join The Way
Back in raising awareness. You can help by volunteering and experiencing firsthand the
privilege of being a part of positive change in someone’s life. You can also partner with us by
donating to continue our mission to help our clients make the most of their second chance.